Impatiens, also known as busy lizzy, touch-me-nots and snapweed, are an annual plant, meaning they have a life span of one year and new plants grow from seeds the next season. They are easy to grow, bloom from summer well into autumn, and come in a wide range of colors and in single, semidouble and double blooms.
Impatiens have star-shaped flowers that come in red, scarlet, pink, white, rose, mauve and bicolors. Healthy plants have a bushy appearance and dark green leaves. Impatiens grow to a height of from 6 to 24 inches.
Impatiens needs a soil that is moist but well drained. They grow best in partial to full shade but can tolerate sun if they get plenty of water. There is a new cultivar of impatiens known as the New Guinea, which can tolerate more sun, but if they get too much sun, the plants will be shorter and have smaller leaves and fewer flowers.
Impatiens can be started from seed indoors to be planted outdoors after the danger of frost is past, but established plants are also readily available at nursuries. Plants should be spaced 12 inches apart. They will spread out and fill in the gaps. If you want the plants to be taller and not spread out, plant them 6 inches apart. Mix compost or a slow-release fertilizer with the soil when you plant.
Impatiens need to be watered frequently and deeply once a week all through the growing season. The soil should not be allowed to completely dry or the flowers will wilt. They also need to be fertilized on a regular basis, about once a month with an all-purpose fertilizer, except for those grown in containers and pots. These should be fertilized every 3 to 4 weeks with a liquid fertilizer.
Impatiens can be planted in the shade, but they need extra water and fertilizer every 3 weeks because their roots will be competing with the nearby tree's roots for nourishment. Impatiens can be grown in containers, window boxes and indoors in pots or as a hanging plant.
Root knot and lesion nematodes, two types of roundworms, can suck the life out of the plant, causing the leaves to turn yellow and the plant to become stunted, decline and eventually die. The tarnished plant bug is another sucking insect that makes the flowers dwarfed or deformed. Bacterial wilt will make the stems rot at the soil line. Fungi cause the plants to be come stunted and the leaves to turn yellow or have brown spots.