The genus impatiens includes hundreds of species of small perennial plants, widespread in Asia and Africa; in the garden are mainly cultivated I walleriana and I. Hawkerii, and of course the numerous hybrids that are derived from them over the years. Although they are perennial plants, in Europe they are grown as annuals, as they do not bear frost, and often young plants are more floriferous than adult plants. Although fearing the cold, they are cultivated in the garden, like flowering plants or spring and summer borders; in autumn, when the first cold arrives, they tend to dry up and are eradicated. Wanting it would be possible to move the plants in the house during the winter, pruning the branches to contain their exuberance, and cultivating them in a warm and bright place; in reality they are hardly cultivated as houseplants, first of all because at home the climate is excessively dry and it is difficult to find a well-lit place in the house, where plants can continue to flower even during the winter. Secondly, they are plants that are easy to cultivate, and with a low cost: it is therefore quite useless to keep a plant from one year to another, when it is possible to buy dozens of new ones when spring arrives. Of course, for fans it could be an interesting challenge.
How carolina is grown
Impatiens plants, also called carolina, lysetta or glass flowers, are very common in gardens; over the years there have been various types of hybrid products: with particularly colorful flowers, of small dimensions, with double or striped flowers. All these plants produce small, very branched shrubs, with fleshy, succulent stems; despite their richness in water these stems do not behave like the most common succulent plants, or they fear drought; to have plants that are always in bloom and luxuriant, it is necessary to place them in a shady or partially shaded place, but quite bright; they prefer fresh and moist soils, therefore they need frequent and regular watering, even daily during the most torrid and dry weeks of July and August. Every 10-12 days let's remember to add to the water of the fertilizer for flowering plants, in order to stimulate a constant flowering.
The flowers are followed by small semi-woody capsules, full of seeds; for those who wish to experiment with sowing, it is possible to keep the small seeds from year to year, to sow them already in February in a protected seedbed, or in May directly at home.
Let us remember that these plants are the result of numerous hybridizations, so the plants that we will obtain from seed could be very different from the plants from which we have taken the seeds: we should not be surprised if seedlings with violet or fiery red flowers are produced from the seeds of our plants.
Carolina, Lisetta - Impatiens: Caroline for the sun
In nurseries we find more and more often impatiens with flowers identical to I. walleriana, but with larger and darker leaves, furrowed by showy veins; it is the I. hawkeri "new guinea", a very vigorous hybrid of a species of African origin; these plants are definitely more vigorous than the classic carolina, and develop larger and flowering shrubs; in addition to these characteristics, they tend to withstand heat, direct sun and drought better, even though they produce flowers that are practically identical to those of the most cultivated species. These plants are generally also slightly more expensive, but the price difference is quickly rewarded by the greater resistance and vigor of the plants. In fact, if we wanted to experiment with the winter cultivation of carolina plants, perhaps it would be better to think of a plant of this species.