Prized for shade tolerance and a wide array of brightly colored blossom shades and attractive foliage, impatiens are typically annuals that will die off at first frost to complete their life cycle. However, in some temperate winter climate zones, impatiens may re-seed themselves and return in the spring for another season. These carefree, pretty bedding plants are sure bet for success in any garden.
Choose a location for impatiens with excellent drainage and in part shade. Full sun may decrease foliage size and lessen bloom count. If you are planting under trees, be aware that the impatiens must compete with trees or shrubs planted nearby for moisture and food. Mounding the soil for a partially-raised bed around trees may be a solution to this problem.
Prepare the soil by adding 1 to 2 inches of organic compost, such as well-rotted manure, over the bed. Mix well for improved drainage and a slow release of nutrients for the impatiens over time.
Plant impatiens starts 8 to 18 inches apart. Tall species will typically require more space between plants than the more compact varieties. Leggy plants will result from crowding the starts together.
Water the starts well and keep the soil moist throughout the growing season. Avoid watering over the foliage and blooms, as this practice encourages disease spread. Do not allow water to pool around the plants.
Fertilize once per month with a liquid mix applied to the surrounding soil. Blooms may die back in the hottest part of the summer, but return when the cooler fall temperatures set in.
Mulch around the impatiens for improved moisture retention and to deter weeds. As the plants die back in the fall, remove dead foliage and litter, and re-apply mulch over the plants. If your variety is self-seeding and your climate temperate enough, you may see new starts come up in the spring.