All Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana) are over-achievers, blooming from early spring until the first frost in fall ends their life cycle. However, the double variety is a double over-achiever, producing double-petaled blooms throughout its annual lifespan. Planting and growing these colorful annual flowers is easy with these tips.
Double Impatiens are hardy in most growing zones and thrive in a partially shaded area. Plant them on the east side of a structure where they will be shaded from the afternoon sun and you will have some happy plants. Another good planting location is under tall trees or shrubs where they will be in the shade for part of the day.
These over-achievers love moist soil. Planting them in partial shade will help keep the soil moist and cool, and a 3-4 inch layer of organic compost around the plants will further help to retain soil moisture. For ease of care, plant double Impatiens near a water source so keeping the soil moist all summer won’t be a hardship. If soil dries out, the plants will become stunted, stop producing flowers and possibly die from heat stress.
Double Impatiens will grow into a mound of a plant that will be 6-8 inches high and 6-8 inches wide. The plant will be covered with double blooms and greenery will almost disappear under the bright colored blooms. The developing plants can be pruned to keep them at the desired height and to encourage side growth and more lateral blooms. Pruning the soft stemmed plants is easy, just pinch off any unwanted stem growth with thumb and forefinger. If a large grouping of these plants are outgrowing their space, prune back to half their height with a pair of sharp pruning shears. All varieties of Impatiens are annuals and will need to be replanted each year.
How to Plant
Start with plants from the nursery or start seeds indoor six weeks prior to the last spring frost date. Impatiens will not tolerate even the slightest amount of cold, so be patient with your Impatiens and wait until the spring soil and air temperatures warm up before attempting to plant them outdoors. Till the soil in the partially shady planting location to the depth of 8 inches. Work organic compost into the soil to improve drainage and help feed the plants during the growing months. Create planting mounds that are 8-10 inches apart and 4-6 inches tall. Place a plant in the middle of each mound at the same depth as they were in their bedding container. Seeds for double Impatiens can be started indoors 12 weeks before the last frost, then transplanted outdoors into prepared soil after all danger of frost is past. These double blooming beauties can also be grown as indoor houseplants or planted in hanging baskets to display on the porch.
The double-petal blooms will be on the plants from early summer until the first killing frost of fall. Bloom colors span the color gamut and bloom in shades of red, purple, pink, orange and yellow. Double blooms in pure white, bicolor, tricolor and striped are also available.
Double Impatiens need very little care after they are planted. Apply a 3-4 inch layer of organic mulch around each plant to help retain soil moisture and prevent weed growth.
After the plants bloom they will naturally discard their own spent flowers and keep producing new blooms, so manual deadheading is not needed. If plants becomes leggy, prune them back to 3 inches tall to encourage lateral growth. The more water and fertilize double Impatiens receive, the bigger the plants will grow and the more blooms they will produce.
Feed plants once a month with a water soluble plant food and water regularly. When applying water or plant food, do it at the base of the plant, not from above. Since the plant is in partial shade, moisture on leaves or flowers can lead to a mildew problem. Inspect regularly for signs of disease and pest damage. Yellow leaves, sticky residue and stunted growth are signs of trouble. If visible distress is noted on any plant, remove the entire plant and discard to prevent the disease or pests from spreading to other healthy plants. Inspect soil where affected double Impatiens was located for any visible signs of pests or soil mold. If any are found, treat area with insecticidal soap to prevent spread.