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Impatiens: The Vibrant World of Busy Lizzies, Balsams, and Touch-Me-Nots

Articles: Impatiens: The Vibrant World of Busy Lizzies, Balsams, and Touch-Me-Nots

I have never cared for impatiens, and I suspect I’m not alone among Pacific Horticulture readers who are bored by the ubiquitous columns of impatiens marching up either side of the walk to the front door of far too many houses. What we tend to forget, however, is that lack of creativity in the use of impatiens is a world apart from the wildly diverse nature of the genus itself.

Derick Pitman opened up that world for Pacific Horticulture readers with his two-part series on the “other” impatiens (see October 2006 and April 2007). Now, Raymond Morgan’s book further explores that diversity, which runs to more than 1,000 species, relatively few of which have been introduced into the nursery trade. As he points out, Impatiens walleriana (the ones marching to the front door), along with the New Guinea hybrids (I. hawkeri group), and, to a lesser extent, I. balsamina and I. glandulifera, are generally the only species widely cultivated, although extensive hybridizing, especially of the first two, has given us hundreds of cultivars.

Morgan discusses those cultivars and moves on to breeding programs with less well-known species that have recently given us so many new colors and flower ...

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