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Try Planting Improved Rose-Form Impatiens
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
It can be considered a thornless rose for the shade. It could be thought of as a rose with virtually no disease or insect problems, or as a rose that blooms all season and never needs deadheading. While there is no such rose, the plant I refer to is the rose-form, or double, impatiens.
If you have not tried rose-form impatiens lately, you are missing a real gardening treat. While not a new plant, big improvements have been made. Seed companies produced them, but were having difficulty producing the seeds and keeping the rose- form stable.
Today most are propagated vegetatively and put through a rigorous screening program for any unseen diseases. The result has been phenomenal with impatiens that now produce huge rose- form flowers in abundance and put on a terrific landscape display.
They are also well suited to large containers where they form huge mounds of blooms and leaves. They really liven up a porch, patio or deck in areas receiving filtered light.
Rose-form impatiens are sold generically, but those known for superior performance are the Fiesta Series produced by Ball Flora Plant and the Tioga Series produced under The Flower Fields label, a division of Paul Ecke Ranch.
I am a little partial to the Fiesta Series that has more than a dozen colors such as Salsa Red, Burgundy Rose and Coral Bells, which includes Purple Pinata and Stardust Lavender, which will be introduced in 2001.
The Tioga Series also boasts a dozen colors such as a gorgeous Rose on White, Purple Star and Neon Salmon.
These plants have the capability of showing off your landscape from May until the first frost, so give them a proper home. Choose a site with morning sun and afternoon shade or high filtered shade. Prepare your bed by incorporating 3 to 4 inches of organic matter to raise the beds and give good drainage.
As you till, work in two pounds of a slow-release balanced fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed space. These impatiens get large, reaching 24 inches in height and as wide. Set out at the proper spacing and plant at the same depth they were growing in the container.
Impatiens combine wonderfully with caladiums which have the same water and light requirement. Try white caladiums with red veins with red impatiens. Bold drifts of impatiens planted with those of complementary colors or colors of the same family will create a show.
These impatiens look particularly showy planted in front of evergreen shrubs like hollies, viburnums or ligustrums.
Keep them mulched, watered and fed every six to eight weeks with light applications of a slow-release balanced fertilizer containing minor nutrients. Should they look leggy in late summer, trim back about one-third to induce branching and growth. Taking care of them during late summer pays huge dividends with color all fall.