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How to Design With Impatiens Combinations

By Jacob J. Wright

Impatiens are one of the most popular annual (or short-living perennial) plants for warm, shaded areas of the garden in both tropical and temperate regions of the world. With a wide array of flower colors, from white to pink, orange and violet, impatiens can add a splash of light, pastel floral beauty or bright, warm-hued floral excitement. By growing them in the appropriate conditions, impatiens can be designed into dramatic beds all by themselves or with other shade-needing plants with complimentary textures and colors.

Designing Only with Impatiens

Ensure the garden bed for the impatiens is appropriate for the plants' needs and health. Avoid hot, overly sunny and dry soil locations.

Plant in large numbers. Masses of impatiens in long line rows as a border edging or as a sweeping ground cover under the shade of trees creates visual drama and design unity.

Use cool or pastel colors to make a planting of impatiens look larger. White, pink and lavender blossoms on impatiens are easier to see from a distance and in shady locations. They also create a soothing design effect.

Consider hot or richly colored impatiens to attract the eye or make a planting design more vibrant. Hot colors like fuchsia, magenta and orange should be placed away from landscape features you do not wish people to notice, such as a cable box or telephone pole.

Designing with Companion Plants

Pair impatiens with brightly colored foliage plants. Elephant ear (Colocasia, Alocasia), caladium, and coleus (Solenostemon) are three choices to compliment the texture and colors of impatiens.

Match the impatiens' flower color with the companion plants' foliage. For example, the caladium 'Miss Muffet' has flecks of magenta in its leaves. Planting magenta colored impatiens near 'Miss Muffet' becomes visually exciting in both color and texture.

Juxtapose the mounding shape of impatiens against with upright or feathery textured plants. Ferns remain green but have a soft, billowy texture and complement the impatiens' flowers and rounded leaves.

Position impatiens around shrubs that have variegated (multi-colored) foliage. The soft white or pastel pink colors of impatiens planted around the shady base of a variegated dogwood shrub is elegant and simple.



  • If impatiens fail in your garden because of too much sunshine, hot conditions or dry soil, consider planting the similar flowering Madagascar periwinkle or vinca (Catharanthus roseus).
  • The same landscape design ideas mentioned can also be scaled down for use in containers, too.


About the Author


Jacob J. Wright became a full-time writer in 2008, with articles appearing on various websites. He has worked professionally at gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Wright holds a graduate diploma in environmental horticulture from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and a Master of Science in public horticulture from the University of Delaware.