Overwintering Impatiens

Last December I attended the Christmas shopping party of my local nursery, and after a complimentary glass of wine (or two) found myself making some impulse purchases. One of those was a lovely New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkerii)- Sonic series ‘Sweet Orange’. I’m not usually partial to bright orange flowers and hadn’t a clue as to where it would go in my garden, but I was drawn in by the cheerful blooms and the contrasting deep purple-green foliage.

Impatiens hawkerii - Sonic "Sweet Orange" flower

Impatiens hawkerii – Sonic “Sweet Orange” flower

It ended up in a hanging basket under the crepe myrtles, in dappled sunlight. It required watering every morning over the hot summer, but rewarded me with constant blooms well into winter. After we moved house I put it on the verandah near the front door, where it cheerfully greeted me each day.

About a month into winter I noticed that the plant had lost its vigour and some pest had moved in and started putting holes in the leaves. It was clearly saying its goodbyes, as the New Guinea Impatiens are best grown as annuals this far down the east coast of Australia. They are quite frost-tender and love humidity. I decided I wasn’t ready to part with it though, and since it was in a pot and easily done, for the first time I brought a plant inside for the winter.

I put the pot on the kitchen bench, where it receives bright indirect light most of the day, with some direct western sun in the late afternoon. Our house is heated to 20 degrees Celsius during the day and 15 degrees overnight. I have created ‘humidity’ by spritzing the leaves with water once or twice a day, and watering the roots once a week.

The result? One very happy plant! It has flowered all winter long, and whatever was eating it has long since moved out. Now spring is just 2 weeks away, and once the overnight temperatures climb up a little I’ll pop it back out the front again.

In a 30cm pot by the kitchen window

In a 30cm pot by the kitchen window

Here’s hoping its still around next winter!

– – – – – – – – – – -

UPDATE 7th November 2013- 2 months into Spring
I’m just providing an update on my New Guinea Impatiens, as this single post is the most searched-for out of everything on my blog! There are a lot of people out there who would like to keep their Impatiens going into the next Spring, which I completely understand.

I’m pleased to say that my plant thrived through winter and has now made a gradual return to the outdoors. It never stopped flowering! When the weather warmed up (days over 20 degrees C) I started putting it outside in a spot that gets morning sun, and continued bringing it inside overnight. Now that overnight temperatures are in the teens again (it is the last month of Spring in the Southern Hemisphere) it is back outside permanently. Well, until next winter anyway! Here’s how it looked a few days ago:

New Guinea Impatiens after over-wintering on the kitchen bench

New Guinea Impatiens after over-wintering on the kitchen bench

As you can see, the plant has now well and truly outgrown the 30cm pot, so I will upgrade it shortly.

Good luck with over-wintering your impatiens. I hope they make it through to Spring as well :)

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  1. Pingback: The Miracle Of Life | Free, Fun or Interesting

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