Soprano Impatiens debuted this year and I wish every flower I planted was this easy to grow. They arrived in 2022 with four colors: orange; bright red, purple and white shades. In 2023, Salmon and Rose will be added to the Soprano series.
If you’ve read any of my columns, you understand that The Garden Guy is sun challenged. It makes for great photography of hummingbird butterflies and pollinators, as I always shoot against a shadowy background. The Soprano series has become a superstar for me. giving dazzling partnerships with hydrangeas, camellias, azaleas, hostas and ferns.
Garden Guru: Awards are blooming for Truffula Pink gomphrena – and more will follow
Garden Guru: Although the leaves are small, the color pops with Mini Me Watermelon coleus
I suspect there’s a generation of gardeners who haven’t tried the shader impatiens. Proven Winners magazine chose to reference The Sopranos as bedding impatiens. It is certainly appropriate. According to the renowned Missouri Botanical Garden, these are the most popular bedding plants today. In past generations, the name busy lizzy was commonly associated with these flowers.
Soprano impatiens, depending on the label, reach 10 to 15 inches in height with a spread of 12 to 14 inches. I have multiple beds and most of my Soprano impatiens grow 24 inches. It is absolutely wonderful because they have almost countless flowers. The Sopranos have definitely put the fun back into growing impatiens.
In my area of West Georgia, hydrangeas are most often a shade of blue and look their best when protected from the hot afternoon sun. I love soprano impatiens grown in association with large broom hydrangeas and especially in areas where I have incorporated hostas as well. The salmon and orange Sopranos are like a sacred wow with the blue hydrangea flowers.
In another area I alternated salmon, dark red and orange soprano impatiens to create a southwestern or Santa Fe mix. This mix is in a bed against a brick wall and also repeated nearby as a border in front of the camellia sasanqua and mahonia textured with fine fern leaves.
The Garden Guy fell head over heels with crested surf, a variety of Japanese crested painted fern. I created an informal fern drift or sweep, then repeated the same shape with Pink Soprano on one side and White Soprano on the other. I think one of the most exquisite ferns we can grow also needs a beautiful partner and Soprano impatiens are perfect.
I don’t think I’ve ever read that impatiens attract pollinators, but for the past two years I’ve photographed eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies, such as spice butterflies and cloudless sulfur butterflies which I have inherited. When you consider that impatiens bloom from the time you plant them in the spring until the first hard frost, you’re talking pretty good value for your landscape dollar. In my area it is normally 210 days. What other plant can you name that will bloom this long?
Soprano impatiens do best in partial to full shade in organically rich, fertile, well-drained soil. Not everyone has such wonderful soil, so incorporate 3-4 inches of compost or humus to loosen the soil and provide a good home for your new plants. In most of my beds I have good soil that has actually been combined with fine gravel and surprisingly the soprano impatiens love it.
While working the soil, incorporate a slow-release fertilizer, such as a 12-6-6 mix with minor nutrients at the rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet of planting area. Space them 8 to 12 inches apart, planting at the same depth they grow in the container. Keep them watered and fed with light applications of fertilizer every 4-6 weeks and come fall you’ll have a look that could rival the spring bloom of the azalea.
Norman Winter is a horticulturist. He is a former director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens. Follow him on Facebook at Norman Winter “The Garden Guy”. See more of Norman’s chronicles on SavannahNow.com/lifestyle/home-garden/.