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Impatiens sp. "Blue Angel"

Impatiens gomphophylla

Germinating the seeds

 

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

Getting started -- You may plant each seed in individual, small containers, such as seedling starter trays.  Or you may plant them all in a single, larger container, but it may be difficult to separate the roots later.  Either way, use containers with drainage holes

 Use well-draining soil. A typical mix is 2 parts quality potting soil to 1 part perlite (small or medium size, not large chunks).

 Fill the pots with soil and place a seed or 2 on the surface.  If you have long-fibered sphagnum moss, sprinkle a small amount over the surface.  This helps retain moisture around the seeds while allowing light to reach them, which aids germination.  The amount of moss to use is shown in this photo.  If you don't have the moss, sprinkle a small amount of your soil mix around the seeds.  Then 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 may be used to maintain moisture, but leave it open slightly to allow some fresh air in.  You may need to drip a few drops of water over the seeds every day or two to keep the seeds moist.

 Until they sprout, try to keep them between 60 to 78 degrees F (16-26C) during the day, with nights between 40-62 F (4-16C).  Avoid letting them get above 80 F (27C).  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

 An LED bulb kept 4 inches (10 cm) away provides the right amount of light (See: "Growing indoors with LED lights").  Protect from direct sun. 

 They should start germinating in about 4 to 6 weeks, and continue for about a month.  For the first 3 weeks after sprouting, continue keeping the soil surface moist.  After that, you may remove any plastic dome.

Fertilizing -- The first month, feed every 2 weeks with a small amount of diluted liquid fertilizer (1/8 strength).  Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for this, since it is easily absorbed and complete.  After 2 months, you may switch to a granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients.

Growing onward...

Lighting -- This Impatiens prefers bright, filtered light.  Protect it from strong, direct sun. 

Transplanting -- When your plants are 2-3 months old, you may gently transfer them to larger pots.  Avoid damaging the roots when repotting.  Shade it from sun the first week after repotting.  A 1 gallon (4 liter) pot is fine the first year.  The second year, use approximately a 3 gallon (12 liter) pot.

Watering -- Aim to keep the soil evenly moist, never letting it dry out completely, except if it goes dormant in cool conditions.  You may use a moisture meter probe to monitor the moisture levels down in the root zone.

Climate -- It prefers temperatures below 85 F (29C), with nights below 65F (18C).  In warmer climates, keep the pot shaded.  The rhizomes of mature plants should survive down to at least 25 F (-4C) if well mulched, but it's best to keep it above freezing the first 2 years.

 Over about 40% humidity is best.  If it seems to suffer from low humidity indoors, consider using an ultrasonic room humidifier, sold at home improvement stores and some thrift shops.

Dormancy care -- In winter the rhizomes may go dormant if conditions are cool enough.  If this happens, reduce watering, keeping the soil slightly moist until they sprout in spring.  Indoors, the plant might not go dormant, or it may go semi-dormant.  Don't feed it while it's semi-dormant.

Pests to watch for -- Watch for any pests that can affect your other plants.  Start with insecticidal soap spray before using stronger remedies.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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