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Impatiens salpinx

Impatiens salpinx

Germinating the seeds


When to plant --
Plant your seeds when you receive them for best germination.

Getting started -- You may plant each seed in individual, small containers.  Or you can plant them all in a single container, but it may be more difficult to transplant them later.  Either way, use pots with drainage holes

 For soil, use a well draining mix high in organic matter.  A typical mix is 2 parts potting soil to 1 part perlite (use small- or medium-size perlite, not large chunks) or coarse sand.  An alternate mix is 1 part coir fiber to 1 part perlite, with some slow-release fertilizer mixed in.

 Fill the pots with soil and place a seed or 2 on the surface.  If you have  long-fibered sphagnum moss (not ground peat moss), sprinkle some on the surface. This helps retain moisture around the seeds while allowing light to reach them, which aids germination.  This photo shows how much moss to use.  If you don't have the moss, sprinkle some of your soil mix around the seeds.  Add water until everything is evenly moist (but not soggy).

 Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the surface soil always stays moist.  A plastic dome or bag is good for maintaining moisture, but leave it open a crack to allow some fresh air in.  You may need to drip a few drops of water over the seeds every day to keep the seeds moist.

 The ideal temperature for germination is between 65 to 77 degrees F (18-26C).  A little cooler at night is ok.  Avoid letting them get above 80 F (27C) for prolonged periods.  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

 Keep in bright light out of direct sun.  An LED or fluorescent bulb kept 4 inches (10 cm) away provides the right amount of light (See: "Growing indoors with LED lights").  

 They should start germinating in 3 to 5 weeks, but allow up to 8 weeks for any slow ones to sprout.  Increase air ventilation slightly after sprouting to prevent rot, but continue keeping the soil surface moist for 2-3 weeks after sprouting.

Growing onward...

Lighting -- This Impatiens prefers bright shade, or filtered sunlight.  Avoid prolonged direct sun, unless it's early-morning sun.

Fertilizing -- The first 6 weeks, feed weekly with a small amount of dilute (1/8 strength) liquid fertilizer.  Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for young seedlings, since it is easily absorbed and contains all essential nutrients.  After 6 weeks, you may switch to a granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients, feeding at half the dosage on the package.  Or continue feeding weekly with dilute liquid fertilizer.

Transplanting -- When your plants are 2-3 months old, you may gently transfer them to a larger pot.  Water the soil first, and avoid letting the soil ball break apart, which can damage the roots.  After transplanting, give no sun or liquid fertilizer the first week.

Watering -- Aim to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Never let it dry out completely.  You may use a moisture meter probe to monitor the moisture levels down in the root zone.

Climate --
I don't know the climate tolerances of this species, but some related African Impatiens prefer temperatures below 85 degrees F (29 C), and lag when it gets warmer than this, especially if nights are warm.  It has handled temperatures in the mid-30s, but i don't know if it can survive frost.  You may save the seeds each year and grow the plant as an annual. 

 Above about 45-50% humidity is best.  If it seems to suffer in low humidity indoors, consider using an ultrasonic room humidifier, sold at home improvement stores and some thrift shops.

 It's normal for a leaf to occasionally turn yellow and drop, but if it seems excessive, the soil may be too dry down in the root zone, or the plant may need more fertilizer.

Pests to watch for -- aphids, scale (dark disks on the stems), mealy bugs.  Try using insecticidal soap spray before using stronger remedies, since some may harm the plant.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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