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Avoiding Trouble
With Your Impatiens

Impatiens are VERY EASY to grow and show a colorful display for 6 or more months of the year in South Florida. Here are the main problems to avoid:

Reason #1:


We know when impatiens will be less than great when we hear "oh yes, the sprinkler systems takes care of the watering."


  1. Flowers in the sun almost always need more water. Because auto sprinklers water everything uniformly, flowers in the sun will mostly likely not receive enough water to become robust specimens
  2. Impatiens in shade or partial shade need less water. These flowers may thus become over watered by relying only upon your automatic sprinklers
  3. Sprinklers may reach and water all your (young low to the ground) impatiens. However, as your flowers grow, the stems may block the spray of sprinkler water causing some to flounder from lack of water
  4. Flowers planted under the roof line almost never receive rain water. These "captive" flowers need hand watering to survive and thrive

Reason #2:


Impatiens are virtually trouble free but can contract fungus

Fungus kills impatiens in one to three days. The appearance is as if they needed watering.  If your impatiens catch the fungus, they look melted

Too much water and too little water look exactly alike...limp and weak. Test for too much or too little water by poking your finger into the soil about one inch. Wet? Then your limp impatiens are about to get fungus and die. Stop watering immediately. Test daily with your finger and you may save your flowers by backing off the water

Fungus appears often with impatiens in pots and impatiens with mulch. Pots can easily be over watered. Add some rainy days and all can die. Mulch holds water. With over watering or a period of ongoing rains, mulch can kill impatiens by providing an environment for fungus. Never mulch impatiens (except in full sun conditions)

As of this writing, February 2012, there is a new, huge and probably insurmountable attack on impatiens - powdery mildew

Powdery mildew is part of the environment and had been only a minor problem, but now the infection is devastating impatiens NATIONWIDE.  The reason is, seed companies have been hybridizing for years to gain desired characteristics, and in the course of time, impatiens' previous resistance has been bred away to a large extent

Now in 2012 the problem has peaked and most Florida growers will not re-plant impatiens this fall.  There is no cure because the genetic weakness of the seed stock must be corrected which will take YEARS.  Consider not planting impatiens

Impatiens that are watered with DRIP irrigation do much better that overhead irrigation avoiding the powdery mildew

You can also take action by watering no sooner than about 8-9:00 AM so the sun has a chance to help dry off the moisture from overhead irrigation on the leaves.  The powdery mildew appears and attacks the UNDERSIDE of leaves.  By the time you see the problem from the top, it's too late

Click here for a Google link to many photos of powdery mildew and this one on impatiens

Reason #3:


It is common sense to know plants need food and water

Professional flower growers always use quality fertilizers. You should too, but be careful to not over feed with strong liquid fertilizers. You can easily "burn" your flowers. Master Gardener prefers time released pellet food 90-day feeding with all essential minor elements included.  Buy a FLAT formulation like 14-14-14 or similar; avoid HIGH nitrogen formulations like 25-10-10 or similar.  Read the packages closely

If you don't provide proper fertilizer, you can't expect robust impatiens, period

Impatien color combinations, photos