New Guinea Impatiens

The days are numbered for our New Guinea Impatiens.  They are beginning to look a bit tatty and as my tidy head is well and truly ensconced, tatty means terminal.  I have, optimism of optimisms, retained five of varying colours to overwinter in the greenhouse.

They are in theory a perennial subshrub.  Well they would be in a climate that didn’t dip (according to RHS guidelines) below 10C.  North Devon is, I accept, milder than most regions in the UK but that is in the realms of fantasy. Although we have a large greenhouse our main aim is to keep it above freezing and even this isn’t always possible.  So in truth we, like most others, treat them as annuals.  We buy them in as plug plants in the spring and grow them on for a while before planting out.  These hybrids have been spawned from the breeding of Impatiens hawkeri, named after the man who introduced the plant from Papua New Guinea in 1884, Lt. Hawker, ensuring it became a popular Victorian greenhouse plant.  It comes in a variety of colours, pinks ranging from baby, to salmon and onto cerise, red, white and bi-colours.  The foliage can be dark or streaked yellow and has an exotic feel.  All attractive features, the bonus for us is that it is most comfortable in part shade and can be pushed to the shade end of the spectrum.  Annuals that enjoy these conditions are like hen’s teeth and we love it all the more because of this.

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