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Growing Impatiens from Seed
While it’s easy to just pick up a few packs from the greenhouse, growing impatiens from seed can be a fun and rewarding activity if you have some extra time before spring.
You can use impatiens seeds from the store or collect seeds from one of your old impatiens if you watch carefully. If you’re like us, you may have already had one go to seed and replant itself! Unfortunately, ours was in with another flower who may not appreciate its presence come summer…
Either way, here’s how you can grow impatiens yourself.
Start Early – At Least 3 Months Before You Need Them
It takes a while to grow impatiens from seed to transplanting size – three months, actually! That means you’ll need to start them in February for a May planting. Adjust accordingly if you want them earlier or later in the year.
What You’ll Need to Grow Impatiens from Seed
To get started, you’ll need some good impatiens seeds. You’ll also want:
- Seed Starting Potting Soil Mix
- Seed Cell Trays
- A bright room that can maintain a 70-75° soil temperature
Planting Impatiens Seeds
First, fill your cell trays with seed starter up to about a 1/2 inch from the top and press it down gently. To encourage sprouting, you can pour hot water into the trays, then allow the soil to cool to less than 85 degrees.
Carefully place one seed in each cell of your pack. Since they’re small, you can use a wet toothpick to capture just one seed at a time. Try not to get more than one in each cell, and avoid spreading them all out loosely over the potting soil. When you’re finished, you can lightly press them, but don’t pack them down tightly.
And most importantly, don’t cover the seeds – they actually need to be exposed to light to grow! Water them lightly using a spray bottle, and cover the tray with its clear plastic topper. Keep them in an area with bright, indirect light. If you have no cover, you can use plastic wrap or leave the seeds exposed. Without a cover, you can leave the seeds in direct sunlight, but you’ll need to water them more frequently.
Growth and Care
Seeds can take from a few days to three weeks to sprout. Throughout the process, keep the soil damp by spraying water on them.
Once they begin sprouting, take off the plastic topper and leave them open to the air. Consider placing them in a window or other area that receives a couple of hours of direct sun per day. You can also try using fluorescent lights. Whatever light method you choose, continue to keep the soil damp, and try to keep the room temperature at about 60-65 degrees.
Once two true leaves form (and provided it’s warm enough out!), you can begin hardening them in the outdoors. Place the tray in a protected area outside for an hour. The next day, add another hour, and continue until they can live outside completely.
By late May (or whenever your frost free date is!) you’ll be able to transplant them.
Pick an area with morning or dappled sunlight. Too much sun can dry them out, while too little may stunt their growth.
Carefully remove them from their cell packs, and plant them directly in the ground or in a larger container and water well. They love fertile soil, so if you aren’t planting them in potting soil use compost, rotted manure, or another fertilizer to boost their flower growing power.
Water your transplants regularly, since they love having lots of water. This is even more important if you’ve planted them in larger containers, which can quickly run dry. Water them whenever the surface seems to have dried out.
Fun Impatiens Seed Facts
Did you know that impatiens are related to jewelweed, the orange flower that grows in shady areas with bean shaped seed pods that explode when you touch them? Impatiens do the same thing when they go to seed – which is how they got their name!
Enjoy Your Impatiens!
With patience and care, you’ll have as many impatiens as you’d like in no time! Growing impatiens from seed isn’t hard when you know what to expect and how to best care for them. Getting started early is key though – start no later than late February for a May planting. Happy growing!
Looking for more flower info? Find out why marigolds and tomatoes make great companions.