Impatiens are favorite among the gardeners and are widely grown in house gardens as bedding plants or in a container or window box. This flowering plant is very popular because of its colorful attractive blooms. Impatiens are available in a wide range of colors which include red, pink, white, mauve and so on. The basic requirement of the plant is that it should be planted in a shaded region.
In the garden, it has to be planted in well drained soil. If you are growing it in a container, then use good quality potting soil. As it is hardy in nature, growing the plant is quite easy and its care does not involve much hassle. It does not require frequent watering and fertilizing. It needs deep watering once in a week and fertilizing once in a month is enough for this plant. Occasionally, you have to prune impatiens to keep its bushy and compact look intact.
How to Prune Impatiens
The usual height of impatiens may vary from 6 inches to 24 inches and it largely depends on its growing condition. You can prune impatiens when it reaches the height of 6 inches or more. Pruning is important for the plant as it promotes new growth in the plant and improves its blooming. The right time to start pruning impatiens is mid summer or the months of July and August, once the main growing season is over. There are two important steps of pruning. One is the pruning of the blooms and the other one is pruning of its stems and branches.
Pruning of the Flowers
To start with, pinch off the blooms. Usually, impatiens do not require pinching back of the blooms as it can shed its own flowers. Still, occasional pinching off blooms helps to redirect the energy of the plant towards the growth of new blooms. Next, pinch off the new shoots at the end of its branches. You do not need any tool for this. Just hold the center leaves of any branch with your fingers and cut it off. This is done to promote new growths from these areas. More new branches means abundant blooms in the next growing season. After 3 weeks, you have to pinch back the blooms and the shoots one more time. This helps a lot to get dense rich foliage which gives a more fuller look to the plant.
Pruning of the Plant
The next step is pruning of the branches and stems. Use pruning shears or sharps scissors for this job. Before you start pruning, inspect the plant carefully to check out the location of the overgrown branches. Cut them down to give a neat shape to the plant. Cut the stems along the green little nodes or bumps on the stems. These are the points from where new shoots will make their appearances. While pruning the plant, you can bring down its height up to just 4 or 5 inches above the soil.
Do not worry because pruning does not cause any harm to the plant health and the branches will grow back within a few weeks. This kind of pruning done around mid-summer actually helps to improve the mid-summer blooming. You have to prune the plant one more time in late fall before the plant is moved indoors. This time you can prune it down to 3 inches above the soil. During the winters, keep it indoors as houseplants. Just make sure that the soil remains moist and it receives indirect sunlight. You can move it back to the gardens again in spring before the growing season.
Many gardeners find it difficult to decide whether their impatiens require pruning or not. I would like to tell them that whenever the plant looks a bit leggy and weak, you should know that it is time to prune it. After pruning, make sure that the plant is kept in a shaded area and is not exposed to direct heat of the sun. Too much of heat can weaken the plant and it may not be able to recover properly.