At a glance
Latin Name: Impatiens x hybrida 'SunPatiens'
Common Name: SunPatiens
Flowers: 2-3" flowers in orange, red, magenta or white
Foliage: deep green
Mature height: 2-3 ft.
Soil: Well drained
Exposure: full sun
Water usage: high
Sources: Home Depot
If you have ever read any of my writing,
you know I'm critical of what "northern" test sites, plant tags and
catalogs tell us about plants. Very few gardeners outside Texas
would ever understand just what we have to go through to keep plants
alive, much less thriving. So, you can only guess at my disbelief
when I first heard that there were new impatiens being bred that
would grow in full sun. Matter of fact, I thought it was one of
those "urban myths" of gardening.
These sun-loving impatiens were to be
called 'SunPatiens.' Personally, I couldn't believe they didn't
immediately send them to me for trials at the Dallas Arboretum, but,
alas, none showed up. Then, one day, I opened a Home Depot flyer and
noticed they were selling them, and right there in black and white
it stated they could stand full sun in North Texas! How dare someone
introduce a new plant to Texas and not let me try to kill it! You
know our motto at the Dallas Arboretum Trial Program is "Trial by
Flower - If we can't kill it no one can!"
To tell you the truth, I was somewhat
ruthless in my search for these plants. I prefer to call myself
resourceful, but some may say I'm "pushy" when it comes to getting
plants to trial. So, after a few hours on the telephone to the
breeder I had plants the next day. I planted those tender little
4-inch pots in my sunniest and hottest spot in the trial garden, not
a drop of light shade for these SunPatiens! Even my trial assistant
Denise Robb mentioned, "Why are we even planting these? You know
they'll be dead by the end of the week." My answer was "That's the
point of the trial."
Well, I'm here to tell you I was wrong!
SunPatiens not only survived the heat, but they looked good doing
it! Last summer was brutal to many plants in our trial garden.
Matter of fact, I had a hard time keeping regular impatiens alive in
the shade last year, but the SunPatiens just kept on growing and
Now that I was sold on them, I had to go do
a little research and see what made them special. Apparently they
are a hybrid of Impatiens walleriana (regular impatiens) and
Impatiens hawkeri (New Guinea impatiens). If you take a close
look at the plants, you can definitely some of each of their parents
in them. The flower size is somewhere between both and the leaves
and flowers are somewhat thicker than normal impatiens. It's the
robust stems you notice first. These plants have thick, branching
I tested the four original colors of white,
magenta, orange and red. New this year is a variegated salmon
variety and a pale lavender one - I've already got them in the
greenhouse for trialing this year. The white, orange and magenta
were the most vigorous of the four colors I tested, reaching almost
2 1/2 feet by the end of summer. The red was somewhat shorter at
around 2 feet.
I recommend using SunPatiens only in areas
with full sun in the afternoon or all day. If you have shade I'd
stick to standard impatiens - they're cheaper and more floriferous.
Just like other impatiens, they do require quite a bit of watering,
but I'll share a secret with you to make any impatiens flower more
and stay shorter: Let them wilt between watering, and I mean let the
tips hang down before you water. Since all impatiens are native to
the equator they are used to only two seasons, hot/wet and hot/dry.
If they start to dry out a little bit they kick into reproductive
mode and will flower much heavier for you.
Another good thing about SunPatiens is if
they do get too tall or big for you, give them a trim and they'll
pop right back out.
At this time, the only place you can buy
SunPatiens is Home Depot. They purchased all rights to this plant
for the first few years. Originally, I was somewhat irritated by
this idea, but after talking to the breeder, I realize if it wasn't
for their early investment in the breeding and promotion of
SunPatiens, we would still be waiting for them to come to market.
Personally, I don't care what it takes, I just want more good plants
for Texas gardeners!
If you would like to see SunPatiens in
person, visit our trial garden and 66-acre display garden at the
Dallas Arboretum, or visit my Web site at