New Guinea Impatiens – Impatiens X New Guinea hybrids

These hybrids are a new development resulting from a collection of Impatiens brought back from New Guinea. Some are grown for their decorative leaves rather than the flowers; others have large flowers up to 7.5cm (3in) across.

Size and growth

This plant can grow to 60cm (24in) but is usually smaller in a pot.

The stems, like those of Busy Lizzie, are succulent. The fleshy leaves are pointed with slightly serrated edges and their colouring is quite different. They can be green, red or bronze variegated with yellow, often having red veins.

Flowers and flowering Often large, the flowers can continue to appear most of the year. They can be pink, red, white, coral or purple. Remove dead flowers as they fade.

VarietiesNew Guinea Impatiens - Impatiens X New Guinea hybrids

‘Sweet Sue’ has large vermilion blooms with bronze-tinted foliage. ‘Arabesque’ has 8cm (3in) bright pink flowers and green leaves with yellow centres and red veining. ‘Cheers’ is a small plant with yellow, crinkly leaves striped in green.

Display ideas

The smaller varieties of this plant look especially effective displayed in a hanging basket, indoors or outside. To show off leaf colours, fill a large pot with a single variety.

Plant Problems

  • Fine webbing on undersides of leaves indicates an attack of red spider mite.
  • Treatment: The high humidity needed for this tropical plant will also discourage red spider mites. Keep on a layer of moist pebbles or mist regularly. Treat severe attacks with a suitable insecticide.
  • Tiny white specks on stems and around buds are whitefly.
  • Treatment: At the first sign of pests, spray the plant with a mixture of soapy water and methylated spirit. A bad infestation may need treating with repeated doses of a suitable insecticide. Repeat every 2 to 3 days for a couple of weeks, to ensure newly hatched eggs are treated.
  • Plants wilt if the compost is allowed to dry out. Treatment: Plunge into water to the pot top and leave for 30 minutes. Drain well before returning to the usual site.

Making new plants

From seed

Sow seeds in early spring on top of moist seed compost. Mixing them with sand will help them to spread more evenly. Cover with a polythene bag to provide humidity, and place in a light position out of direct sun with a temperature of about 21°C (70°F). Remove cover when the first proper leaves appear.

When seedlings are about 4cm (11/2in) high, transplant each into a small pot of soil-based compost.

From cuttings

Take tip cuttings 7— 10cm (3-4in) long in spring or summer. Pot up in an equal-parts mixture of peat moss and sand or perlite. Cover and keep warm until rooting occurs.

Flowers of New Guinea Impatiens come in ,similar colours to Busy 2 Lizzie, but the leaves can be I marbled, striped or brightly veined.

GENERAL CARE

This is an easy plant to grow indoors or outside. Pinch back new growth to encourage a bushy plant, and remove faded flowers and dead leaves. In winter, plants kept on the patio can be brought indoors.

Potting: Use a soil-based potting compost. Plants flower best in small pots where roots are crowded. When roots extend through the base of the pot, repot.

WATERING

In summer water moderately, allowing the top part of the mixture to dry out before rewatering. In winter water more sparingly, but never let the mixture completely dry out.

Feeding: Apply a standard liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season.

CONDITIONS

Light:This plant likes good light but protect it from the bright midday sun. An east- or west-facing windowsill would be ideal. It will also grow in partial shade.

Temperature: Normal indoor temperatures are fine for this plant. Increase humidity if the temperature rises above 24°C (75°F) and never let it fall below 13°C (55°F).

When to buy

Buy plants in spring from garden centres and nurseries.

What to look for

Buy bushy plants with healthy green leaves, plenty of buds and no sign of pests or disease.

Lifespan

This plant can live for many years. Older straggly plants can be replaced by cuttings.

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