They looked common, but I’d never seen them. They were simple border flowers at Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa. They looked like a cross between Coleus and Impatiens. They’re structure was different. Bigger and sturdier than those plants, some sported high-contrast variegated leaves, and all had big Impatiens-like flowers. I was intrigued.
I learned they’re called SunPatiens. They showed up at McClendon’s this spring. I bought four – two for pots and two for a flowerbed. They’re thriving and looking good in both places. On sale for $1.59 each, they’re totally worth the cash.
SunPatiens love the sun and heat. They drink lots of water, and grow like teenagers. They have stems like Begonias, but they are much stronger. They don’t flower as much as Impatiens, but blooms are bigger. The two varieties I’m growing are:
Vigorous Magenta – A New Guinea Impatiens, the blooms are big and beautiful. The magenta flowers stand out against the deep green leaves. The tag said it would grow two to three feet tall and wide. I’m surprised I’m successfully growing it, because New Guinea Impatiens is one of my black-thumb flowers.
Spreading White – The green and yellow variegated leaves are crisp and stunning. They look great draped with white flowers with a slight magenta glow. Tag says full size is 30 to 40 inches tall and 3 feet wide.
None of mine have reached full size. They’re growing strong, but Seattle lacks the heat for ideal growing conditions. They’re versatile – beautiful in a pot and for adding a nice pop to an established bed. They are faring better in my partial-sun bed than most plants I’ve tried to grow there.
One warning: If you don’t water them enough, SunPatiens will droop, quickly. You’d be hard-pressed to over water them.
One tip: Buy them in early May. SunPatiens I saw at the garden center in June were root bound and scraggly.
One writing warning: Impatiens is. It’s an annoying flower grammatically because the singular sports an s.