If you grow any flowers outdoors, the odds are good that you’ve grown impatiens. This cheerful flower is the most popular one grown in the country, and with good reason. It does well in shade as well as partial sun and works in planters as a hanging plant and in bedding. Impatiens make a strong impression when done in mass plantings, too, but it can be expensive to buy a large collection from a garden center. Learning how to grow impatiens from seeds is the best way to keep your landscaping plans while holding down the cost. Keep reading to learn more about impatiens seed propagation.
Propagating Impatiens by Seed
Impatiens is a slow-growing plant, and you’ll need to start the seedlings about three months before your last spring frost. Impatiens seed germination can take up to 21 days, with most of the sprouting happening within the first two weeks.
Some gardeners may try to save money by broadcasting the seeds over a tray, then transplanting the tiny seedlings once they grow leaves, but you’ll reduce the chance of transplant shock if you start the seeds off in individual small pots or six-pack cells of their own. You’ll have to transplant the seedlings to there anyway, so you might as well start them in their eventual home. Any empty cells from seeds that don’t sprout are a small price to pay for healthier, sturdy impatiens.
Tips on Growing Impatiens from Seeds
Growing impatiens from seeds is a slow process, but a simple one. Fill each cell with a moistened commercial seed-starting mix, leaving a ½ inch (1 cm.) space between the top of the soil and the edge of the planter. Put the cells on a tray and fill the tray with water. Allow the mix to soak up water from the bottom until the top of the mix is moist. Pour the rest of the water out of the tray.
Place two seeds on top of the soil in each cell and sprinkle a light dusting of mix over them. Mist the top of the cells with clear water. Cover the cells with plastic to keep in moisture and place it in a bright spot to sprout.
Once the seeds have sprouted and have produced a pair of leaves, remove the plastic and place the tray filled with cells in a sunny south window. If you don’t have a bright window available, grow the impatiens under fluorescent lights for 16 hours a day.
Some garden experts argue that, while propagating impatiens by seed does need an initial burst of sunlight to wake up the seeds, they grow stockier and stronger if you then move them to a dark area. Experiment with this theory by leaving the seeds uncovered and in a bright, sunny window for the first two days. Then, sprinkle the seeds with starting mix, cover with plastic and move them to a dark place to sprout.
In addition to seed propagation, you may also propagate impatiens through cuttings.