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Impatiens tinctoria

Impatiens tinctoria is a terrific rare species from the African rain forests with big, orchid-like blooms that are fragrant.  Everything about this plant is huge!  It grows to 10 feet tall, with bamboo-like stems, oversized leaves, and massive tubers that grow to 12 inches long.  And its 3 inch wide flowers are probably the largest of all Impatiens species.  This is a cool-climate plant that might not thrive in hot climates.  If you can provide the right conditions, it's a wonderful, unusual plant that's rarely seen for sale.

Impatiens tinctoria

Impatiens tinctoria is a perennial species that can go dormant in winter, unless grown indoors.  Its Dahlia-like tubers are said to be hardy to about 20 degrees F (-6 degrees C).  The vigorous stems grow 2 inches thick, looking sort of like a bamboo with oversized Impatiens leaves.  The plant gets about 8 to 10 feet tall here in San Francisco, and reportedly can grow to 13 feet.  The butterfly-shaped flowers appear at the tops of the branches most months of the year.  The blossoms are white with red streaks, and have a curved, red spur in back that's almost 5 inches long!  The blooms have a sweet aroma and are especially fragrant in the morning.  This is a true species, not a hybrid.

Impatiens tinctoria

Impatiens tinctoria comes from higher elevations in central Africa, where the climate is relatively cool.  It prefers temperatures between about 50 and 80 degrees F (10-27 C), with nights below 65 degrees F (18 F).  I don't know if it will thrive in areas that are consistently above 85 degrees F (29 C) and nights are warm.  It may be grown in a pot and brought indoors over the winter, where it may stay evergreen and continue flowering.  After a few years it will need a very large pot - at least 10 gallons (40 liters).  If the pot is too small, the tubers may break it!  The plant prefers filtered sunlight, or bright shade with some morning sun.  Shade it from strong afternoon sun.  Like most Impatiens, it enjoys moist, well draining soil and regular feeding.  Over about 40% humidity is recommended.

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Germination tips for this plant

 

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Turquoise Puya

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