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How to Space Impatiens When Planting

By Jenny Harrington ; Updated September 21, 2017
Impatiens quickly fill in the spaces between plants.
impatiens image by palms from Fotolia.com

Impatiens are a prized bedding plant in many gardens. They thrive in partially shaded areas where few flowering plants can profusely bloom. Impatiens come in single-hued varieties as well as two- and three-color types. Spacing the impatiens properly in the garden bed allows you maximum coverage without putting the stress on the plants that is caused by overcrowding. Newly planted impatiens will quickly cover the bed if they are cared for properly after planting, as this encourages compact, bushy growth.

Prepare the garden bed prior to planting the impatiens. Lay a 2-inch layer of compost over the bed and till it into the top 6 inches of soil. If planting under trees, lay a 4- to 6-inch layer of compost to give the impatiens a good soil base so they don't have to compete as heavily with the tree roots. Apply a slow-release, balanced fertilizer to the bed just prior to planting, following label instructions for exact application amounts.

Survey the bed to determine the best type of spacing for your impatiens. In borders or other areas where you need low-growing plants, space impatiens 10 to 12 inches apart. As background plants that require more height to be seen, space the impatiens 8 inches apart. The closer together they are planted, the taller they grow. If the variety you are planting is labeled as a tall-growing plant and you require a low-growing plant, space these impatiens up to 18 inches apart to encourage spread over height.

Dig the planting holes to the same depth as the nursery pots but slightly wider. Remove the impatiens from the pots and set them in the holes at the same depth they were at in the pot. Refill around them with soil and firm it around the plant lightly with your hands. Verify that the proper spacing distance from this impatiens before planting the next one.

Pinch off the growing tips after planting to encourage compact, bushy growth. This also prevents legginess in tall-growing plants. Pinch off the top ½ to 1 inch of each stem with your fingers, as this encourages lateral branching.


Things You Will Need

  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Spade


  • Read the plant label before purchasing your impatiens. Purchase those specifically listed as border plants or low growing if you prefer short plants. These require less pinching than tall varieties over the growing season to maintain their height.
  • Impatiens also thrive in pots. Plant one plant per 10- to 12-inch pot.


  • Do not plant the impatiens in the garden until all danger of frost has passed in spring. These flowers are not frost tolerant.

About the Author


Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.