(04/03/17) HAMMOND, La. – Gardeners who like the flowering habit of shade-loving impatiens have another choice for sunny areas of their landscapes.
“People should know more about the impatiens that boldly go when no impatiens have gone before – into full sun,” said LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings. “That’s what you get with the SunPatiens – bedding plants that thrive in our Louisiana summer heat and humidity.”
2016 was the tenth year that SunPatiens were on the market, and now, in 2017, the AgCenter has designated SunPatiens a Louisiana Super Plant.
The Louisiana Super Plants program is an educational and marketing campaign of the AgCenter that highlights tough and beautiful plants that perform well in Louisiana landscapes. Louisiana Super Plants have gone through several years of university evaluations or have an established history of performing well throughout Louisiana.
“Louisiana Super Plants have a proven track record,” Owings said. They are university tested and industry approved. Homeowners and horticulture professionals alike can benefit from using Louisiana Super Plants to ensure successful landscaping efforts.
“You get the best of both shade-loving impatiens and the larger-flowered and variegated foliage of New Guinea impatiens with SunPatiens, a hybrid bred by Sakata Seed,” Owings said.
SunPatiens not only survived and performed well at the AgCenter since they debuted. They also moved onto the list of highly desired and widely recommended flowers for summer color. “We don’t have many bedding plants that will provide so much color from midspring through fall in Louisiana,” Owings 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, and the 15 varieties considered compact growers comprise Louisiana Super Plants.
The smallest-growing compact varieties reach 18-24 inches tall with an equal spread.
“These compact growers have a habit that holds up through the summer and fall months,” Owings said. “Some of the spreading and vigorous types can become too large during our long growing season.”
Flowers of all the SunPatiens are large and showy and are easily seen above the dark green, glossy foliage, Owings said. Compact SunPatiens colors include blush pink, coral, deep rose, electric orange, fire red, hot coral, lilac, neon pink, red, pink, orange, orchid, white, royal magenta and tropical rose.
The best time to plant SunPatiens is prior to mid-May. “Plants perform best when they receive full sun,” Owings said.
If they’re grown in semi-shady conditions, SunPatiens should be pruned in midsummer to maintain a bushy growth habit. Otherwise, they will become lanky and produce fewer flowers. “In fact,” he said, “consider growing regular impatiens instead.”
Allow SunPatiens to wilt slightly between watering, and mulch them to conserve soil moisture. SunPatiens and New Guinea impatiens are both resistant to impatiens downy mildew, a disease that has been a problem on typical impatiens during the past few years in Louisiana.
“SunPatiens have flower power and are low-maintenance and tough,” Owings said. They work well in window boxes, patio containers, baskets and landscape beds. They are a great landscape choice for summer flowers.”
SunPatiens varieties Compact Lilac, Compact Orange and Compact White work well together in landscape beds. Photo by Allen Owings/LSU AgCenter
SunPatiens create a colorful July display in the trials gardens at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station. Photo by Allen Owings/LSU AgCenter
SunPatiens provide a colorful display in this landscape with ornamental grasses. Photo by Allen Owings/LSU AgCenter