Carry Me Back to Old New Guinea
New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri) are the workhorses of my shade containers. Their virtues include a full, mounded habit; larger velvety flowers, and shiny foliage. Plus, they are resistant to impatiens downy mildew, which has devastated annual impatiens plantings around the country.
Their biggest defect is that they are much more expensive as plants than the regular impatiens (I. walleriana). Growing them from seed is not an option given my spring travel schedule.
I noticed that one of my neighbors grew common impatiens last year and they did not become infected. He’s planted them again this year, and so far they are fine. If they make it through the season without signs of disease, I may consider going back to I. walleriana for 2015.
Anyhow, I’ve kept my containers in shade very simple. White is the primary color in the back garden, and most of the New Guinea impatiens are white. However, I have a hanging basket of red ones that I put out for the hummingbirds.
For the containers against the house, the New Guinea impatiens are a mix of white, lavender, and red. This is to provide some transition between the white in the containers and the red in the hanging basket (also, I want them to stand out a little against the house, which is painted white).
Actually, what they call lavender really looks like pink to me, and I may just try to find a pale pink next year.
Along with the New Guinea impatiens I’ve mixed Caladiums and golden creeping jenny (Lysimachia numularia ‘Aurea’) as a “spiller”. The big leaves of the Caladiums stand out against the pattern of impatiens blooms and foliage.
Do you use New Guinea impatiens or common impatiens in your shade containers? If you’ve stopped using common impatiens, would you consider going back to them in the future?