A Beauty in the Shade Garden

    • Thin fruit trees now while fruits are still small. Thin apples to 6 inches apart and peaches to 4 inches apart. On Asian pears leave 1 fruit per spur.
    • Wisterias are large, vigorous vines that are blooming right now with their long clusters of purple, pink or white fragrant flowers. Give them a strong arbor to climb on.
    • Hang up Codling moth traps now to reduce the number of wormy apples in your harvest this year.
    • Spray roses every two weeks to keep them healthy and prevent leaf diseases. Neem oil is a safe alternative to chemicals.
    • Peony cages are like tomato cages except they are shorter and wider. Set them around your peony plants now to hold up the beautiful, large flowers when they bloom.

Impatiens: A Beauty in the Shade Garden

It is sometimes difficult to design a shade garden with lots of color. Most plants do not flower well in too much shade. But Impatiens are easy-to-grow and flower in shady areas all summer long.

Impatiens came originally from Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania. In the 1950’s, hybridizers began working with Impatiens to improve plant qualities. New varieties were introduced in the 1960’s as this new bedding plant began to catch on. Now Impatiens are the most popular bedding plant in the country.

Common names for Impatiens, like ‘Busy Lizzy’ and ‘Touch-me-not’, hint that this plant is indeed “impatient.” When the seed pods are ripe and full, the slightest touch will cause them to burst open and scatter their seeds in the wind.

Hybrid Impatiens come in a full range of colors. Flowers are up to two inches across completely covering the 12 to 18 inch plants. Colors include red, white, orange, coral, pink, rose, lilac, lavender-blue and burgundy as well as picotee bicolors, which are striped or splashed with white. There are also double-flowered varieties known as “rosebud” Impatiens.

For flashy flowers and bold foliage, it’s tough to beat New Guinea Impatiens. They are more vigorous than the regular Impatiens with 2-3 inch flowers and very large leaves that are often variegated with cream or red. The extra large flowers with overlapping petals give a lush tropical appearance to the plants. Flowers come in brilliant colors, from hot pink and bright orange to red. Plants grow 1 to 2 feet tall by summer’s end in rich, moist soil. They grow well as container plants and will take more sun than other Impatiens.

Impatiens are easy to grow in partial shade. In too much sunlight, they will have small leaves and few blooms. They also do not perform well in deep shade, where there is no hint of sunlight for any part of the day, but thrive in filtered shade along with begonias, ferns, foxglove, hydrangeas and fuchsias. The plants will tolerate morning sun, but by noon they need to be in the shade or the summer sun will cook them.

Impatiens do best when given a well-prepared, relatively fertile soil. They prefer moisture, but can take some drought. Never let the soil dry out completely. They will wilt and drop their blooms if they get too dry, but they won’t die without a fight. Mulch around the plants to preserve moisture in the soil. In partial shade, with minimal water, your Impatiens will shine.

Moss baskets look wonderful planted with Impatiens. As they grow, they completely surround the container with flowers. They are excellent in window boxes and make wonderful drifts of color bordering lawns and pathways.

Covering themselves with flowers all summer, Impatiens are perhaps the most useful summer annual for shady gardens.

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