For adding color and life to shaded areas, impatiens can’t be beat. But now, they’ve been bred to withstand the sun and heat of mid-summer. Sunpatiens come in brilliant hues and even their foliage is strikingly pretty.
Annual Sunpatiens were developed from Impatiens by Sakata to thrive in the hottest summer weather and have grown in popularity. In fact, healthy and properly watered Sunpatiens will thrive in temps into the 90s. They have a generous bloom period and flower from spring until the first frosts in fall. Their heat tolerance and their brilliant colors do much to substantiate their popularity.
Categories of Sunpatiens
Sunpatiens are available in three growth categories. Each of the three are hardy and flower generously. They will also thrive in partial shade.
Vigorous Sunpatiens: This is also referred to as the tall series. Flowers come in coral, lavender, pink, magenta, orange, red and white with deep green leaves, with the exception of the coral, which has variegated foliage. This line can grow three to four feet tall and wide. Experts suggest they be planted in the middle or back of the border and this plant is terrific for filling in larger landscape beds.
Compact Sunpatiens: Choose these for flowering combination containers. They need little/infrequent pruning and the plants are tight-branched. Planted in the ground, these grow two to three feet tall and wide, and when they're planted in containers, they grow from 18 to 24 inches tall. The flowers bloom in blush pink, deep rose, coral, white, lilac, orange and magenta, all with dark green leaves.
Spreading Sunpatiens: These are available in white and salmon and both have green with gold-centered leaves, variegated. The foliage of these is quite lovely, a buttery yellow with bright green edges. Spreading Sunpatiens are designed for containers. They grow two to three feet tall and wide. Experts recommend them as an ideal spiller plant for hanging baskets or solo in a large container.
Know your local region, but in general, it's recommended to plant the Sunpatiens in your garden in the late spring. The goal is for a well-established root system. It will increase the Sunpatiens' tolerance to the high temps of the summer sun. Choose an area with as much light as possible.
If you are planting in containers, make sure you choose quality potting soil and, if you do choose containers, it is preferable to place seeds directly in the container (as opposed to replanting later). For planting in the ground, be certain to have good, loosened soil. If the ground you're planting in is high clay soil, it must be amended with good quality compost to increase drainage. When setting the plants out (be sure the plants are set adequately spaced), take some slow-release fertilizer and sprinkle the equivalent of two tablespoons around each. For the first 10 days to 10 weeks, crop temperature should be 68 to 70 degrees. Keep humidity below 70 percent to avoid mold.
It is important to water the Sunpatiens well, and use a 20-10-20 or 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer as recommended on container.
If they are grown in partial shade, they may grow unruly, but they are easily trimmed to maintain a bushy habit. They are not without natural enemies: be wary of aphids, caterpillars, fungus, gnats and thrips. In the wrong conditions, they can also be susceptible to bacterial leaf spotting virus, botrytis rot and stem rot.