Impatiens are low-growing, shade-loving annual plants that make for a delightful addition to any garden. Impatiens can be grown in hanging baskets, along borders or in various-sized containers. Their ability to adapt to shade has made them the most popular annual bedding plant in the United States, according to Richard Jauron of the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University. Planting impatiens from seed is easy and best done in early to mid-February.
Wash and sterilize a seed-starting tray or planting packs. Use hot water and liquid dish soap to thoroughly wash the tray or the planting packs.
Pour 10 cups of hot water into a basin. Measure out 1 cup of household bleach and mix it into the water thoroughly. Set the planting packs or the tray in the solution for about 10 minutes. Rinse the packs or the tray in hot water for 30 seconds to remove any leftover residue. Put them aside to air dry.
Scoop soilless seed-starting mix into the tray or the planting packs. Firm it down using the back of a spoon or your fingers. Soilless mixes usually contain peat moss, vermiculite and perlite.
Pour about 2 quarts of water into a sauce pan and bring to a near boil (approximately 100 degrees). Pour the hot water into the tray or the planting packs to saturate the seed-starting mix. Let the mix cool to where it feels just slightly warm to the touch before proceeding.
Plant three to four impatiens seeds per inch, if you are using a seed-starting tray. If you are using planting packs, plant two to three seeds per individual cell. Since impatiens seeds are very small, you might want to use tweezers to pick the seeds up one at a time.
Push the impatiens seeds gently into the soil to a depth of no more than 1/8 inch using the back of the spoon or the tweezers. Spread out a loose layer of clear plastic wrap over the planting packs or the tray to encourage a humid and moist environment.
Place the tray or the planting packs in a brightly lit location where the temperature is between 70 and 75 degrees. The light is necessary for the germination process. Place the tray or the packs near a south- or west-facing window but not in direct sunlight. Keep the seed-starting mix moist. To water, dip the tray or the planting packs in a basin or bowl of water and allow the mix to soak up the water. Germination of impatiens seeds will begin in approximately 14 to 21 days.
Remove the clear plastic wrap as soon as seeds begin to sprout. Move the packs or the tray into a cooler location, with the temperature approximately 60 to 65 degrees. Continue to provide bright light. Keep the seed-starting mix in the tray or the packs moist, but do not water so often that the mix is soggy wet. Transplant the seedlings into your garden, or into tubs, barrels or hanging baskets once all danger of frost has passed.