Two fresh ways to use these handsome heat lovers

Peter O. Whiteley,  – August 20, 2004

Impatiens are among the most versatile of summer plants, taking to life in hanging baskets, containers, and lightly shaded beds with equal aplomb.

Their colorful flowers, in shades of lavender, pink, orange, and white, are so beautiful that some gardeners prefer to grow the plants at eye level. We show two ways to give impatiens a lift.

Fanfare and filigree

Fanfare series trailing impatiens have stems that reach 8 to 10 inches long. Here, ones with lavender and hot pink flowers fill an 18-inch-diameter hanging basket (sold as Imperial Hanging Planter from Kinsman Company; 800/733-4146). The basket has a coconut fiber liner and rests in a larger (36-inch-tall) wrought-iron planter from a nursery.

Impatiens tree

At first glance, the 8-foot-tall “tree” in Lorraine and Glenn Fredriks’s front yard in Ripon, California, looks like an ancient azalea putting on a summertime bloom show. But closer inspection reveals that the tree is a steel frame that holds 23 pots of blooming impatiens.

A product of Glenn’s imagination and welding torch, it has a trunk fashioned from a 2-inch by 8-foot-long steel pipe and branches (as well as bracing beneath them) of 1-inch-square steel tubing. Rings that hold the pots are made of 1/8-inch-thick flat steel bar welded to the branch tips. The trunk is anchored in concrete.

Each spring, the Fredrikses plant pink impatiens in 12-inch plastic pots filled with potting soil. (At planting time, they mix 1/2 teaspoon controlled-release fertilizer into the soil.) Then they set the pots into the rings. A drip-irrigation system waters each pot 5 minutes a day throughout the blooming season. In addition, each pot is fed a dilute liquid fertilizer twice a month.