Impatiens belong the Balsam plant family (Balsaminaceae), which contains 500 varieties. Grown as a perennial in tropical and sub-tropical locations, the plant is considered to an annual in northern U.S. states that suffer severe winters. The plant forms a low-growing mound that rarely exceeds 24 inches in height and width. Flower production begins in the late spring and continues into fall or even the winter months in tropical locations.
Impatiens are native to East Africa. In its wild habitat, the plant grows to a height of 3 feet as a succulent. In the 1960s, the impatiens became a popular landscape plant, according to Union County College. The popularity of the plant spurred a plant collecting expedition to New Guinea in 1969, led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Longwood Gardens. During the trip, numerous new varieties of impatiens were discovered.
The flowers of the impatiens grow in shades of white, yellow, pink, red and lavender. Flowers continue uninterrupted throughout the spring, summer and fall. Small seedpods form after flowering ceases.
Impatiens flourish in partial shade to full shade. In hot regions, the plants require full shade to prevent wilting, according to Floridata. The plant creates a nonstop green ground cover as each mound of impatiens grows together. The plants can become leggy, but simple pinching helps maintain their prolific bushy growth.
Impatiens prefer well-draining soil. They like fertile soil with a high humus content. The plant does not tolerate overly wet roots, which can result in root rot.
Impatiens require ample watering. If the plants are allowed to dry out for even a short time, they will quickly wilt and never recover. Keep the soil most but not overly wet. Applying a few inches of mulch over the topsoil will help to keep the soil moist in the height of summer.