SunPatiens offer proven Louisiana performance

(05/05/16) HAMMOND, La. – People who like the flowering habit of shade-loving impatiens will be happy to know more about the impatiens that go where no impatiens have gone before – into full sun.

“That’s what you get with the SunPatiens – bedding plants that thrive in our Louisiana summer heat and humidity,” said LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings. “2016 is the 10th year SunPatiens have been on the market.”

SunPatiens gives the best of both shade-loving impatiens and the larger flowers and variegated foliage of New Guinea impatiens with SunPatiens, a hybrid bred by Sakata Seed.

SunPatiens not only survived and performed well at the LSU AgCenter since they debuted, they have moved onto the list of highly desired and widely recommended flowers for summer color, Owings said. “We don’t have many bedding plants that will provide so much color from midspring through fall in Louisiana,” he said.

This low-maintenance annual is available in three distinct series – spreading varieties, compact varieties and vigorous varieties. Several new varieties and colors are typically added to the group each year. The group includes 12 compact growers, 11 spreading growers and four vigorous growers.

The smallest-growing compact group reaches 2-3 feet tall with an equal spread. The spreading types grow 3 feet tall by 4 feet wide. The tallest and widest growth on SunPatiens is found in the vigorous-growth varieties. These plants can reach 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide by fall.

Louisiana growers primarily produce the compact types. “The vigorous types become too large during our long growing season,” Owings said.

Overall plant size is influenced by soil fertility, irrigation and light exposure, he said, suggesting homeowners choose the appropriate plant height for bedding, containers and hanging baskets.

“Regardless of the variety or size, flowers of all the SunPatiens are large and showy and are easily seen above the dark green, glossy foliage,” Owings said.

It is best to plant SunPatiens before the end of May, and they will bloom from May through the first hard frost. Allow the plants to wilt slightly between watering, and mulch them to conserve soil moisture.

Plants perform best when they receive full sun. If they’re grown in semi-shady conditions, they should be pruned in midsummer to maintain a bushy growth habit. Otherwise, they will become lanky and produce fewer flowers. “In fact,” Owings said, “consider growing regular impatiens instead.”

SunPatiens and New Guinea impatiens are both resistant to impatiens downy mildew, a disease that has been a problem on typical impatiens in Louisiana over the past few years.

“SunPatiens have flower power; are low-maintenance; are tough; work well in window boxes, patio containers, baskets and landscape beds; and last through most of the year,” Owings said. “They are a great landscape choice for summer flowers.”

SunPatiens in the Research Gardens at the Hammond Research Station.jpg thumbnail

SunPatiens in the research gardens at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station. Photo by Allen Owings

5/5/2016 4:59:59 PM
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