By Mary Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener
What is a Congo cockatoo plant (Impatiens niamniamensis)? This African native, also known as parrot plant or parrot impatiens, provides a spark of bright color in shady areas of the garden, much like other impatiens flowers. Named for the clusters of bright, orange-red and yellow, beak-like blooms, Congo cockatoo flowers grow year round in mild climates. Read on for tips on how to grow Congo cockatoo impatiens plants.
How to Grow Congo Cockatoo Impatiens
Congo cockatoo impatiens tolerate temperatures as low as about 35 degrees F. (2 C.) but the plant won’t survive even a light frost. Temperatures of 45 degrees F. (7 C.) and above are ideal for this tender perennial.
Congo cockatoo impatiens prefer a location in full shade, especially if you live in a warm, sunny climate. Although the plant will grow in partial sunlight in a cool climate, it won’t tolerate bright sunlight or hot summers.
The plant performs best in rich soil, so dig in plenty of compost or well-rotted manure before planting.
Congo Cockatoo Care
Caring for Congo cockatoo impatiens is simple and this colorful, vigorous plant thrives with minimal attention.
Water the plant regularly to keep the soil consistently moist but never soggy. As a general rule, one weekly watering is sufficient unless the weather is hot, but always water immediately if the foliage begins to look wilted. A layer of bark chips or other organic mulch keeps the roots moist and cool.
Pinch the growing tips of newly planted Condo cockatoo impatiens to encourage full, bushy growth. Cut the plant back by 3 or 4 inches if it begins to look tired and leggy in midsummer.
Fertilize the plant twice during the growing season, using a general purpose liquid or dry fertilizer. Don’t overfeed because too much fertilizer creates a full, bushy plant at the expense of blooms. Always water immediately because fertilizer may scorch the roots.
Caring for Congo Cockatoo Plants Indoors
If you live in a cool winter climate, you can grow Congo cockatoo impatiens indoors in a pot filled with good-quality commercial potting mix.
Place the plant in low or filtered sunlight. Keep the potting mix lightly moist by watering when the top of the soil feels dry, but never let the pot stand in water.
Fertilize the plant twice during spring and summer, using a regular fertilizer formulated for indoor plants.