The biggest surprise in The Garden Guy’s testing this year comes courtesy of the Soprano impatiens. I cannot remember the last time I planted what we call bedding impatiens. I sure I had dark hair and was still helping children with homework. All I can say is, holy wow.
If you have forgotten about impatiens, these plants will give unparalleled color to the shade garden. I’ll testify the Sopranos can tolerate more sun than I thought. And we have had more frequent rains than I can ever remember.
Coming from Proven Winners, Soprano impatiens will make their debut in 2022 and will be available in four colors: Bright Red, Orange, Violet Shades and White. They'll reach about 15 inches tall with an equal spread.
You might think a plant that thrives in the shade or filtered light would have special needs. In that regard, it has been zero, zip, nada. They have been the most carefree plants in my garden this year.
No one expects impatiens to attract pollinators, but I have had swallowtail butterflies visit, and now the large cloudless sulpurs have also found them to their liking. I am expecting that as the season winds down, the hummingbirds will start to sample as well.
If you are like me, it may very well have been 20-plus years since you have grown this type of impatiens. As tough as they are in the long sweltering summer heat and humidity, tight heavy clay may be the only thing keeping you from the green thumb award. If this is your situation, incorporate organic matter into your soil or plant on raised beds of planting mix like commercial landscapers.
There is possibly a generation or two of gardeners that have never planted bedding impatiens and might be wondering about partnerships and choice combinations for the landscape. If so, rejoice in this. If you are a hosta lover, you could not pick a showier companion.
The Garden Guy decided to create mini-mixes instead of planting single colors. Thinking back to April when I planted, I really can’t remember why I chose to do it. Maybe I had faint recollections of the '90s mixes. I partnered the Soprano Violet Shades and the Soprano Orange together. They bring me cheer every time I look at them.
I used the Soprano mix around Rockin Golden Delicious pineapple sage and in conjunction with mophead hydrangeas that bloom blue for me. I also used the impatiens with Shadowland Autumn Frost hostas and as an understory to upright Alocasia elephant ears.
I created another mini-mix using the Soprano Orange and Bright Red together. This just screams Santa Fe or somewhere west where the chili ristras hang in decoration. I used these along a brick wall and in close proximity to Heart to Heart Mesmerized caladiums. The soil here was already a mix of gravel and loam and has been superb.
In the front yard I used the Soprano Violet Shades and Soprano White in partnership with Crested Surf Japanese Painted ferns and various azaleas. In all instances, these impatiens light up the landscape. Suddenly those shady areas no longer go unnoticed.
Next year is simply going to be amazing with all the new plants. If you have shady areas, then by all means put Soprano impatiens high on your list. You’ll have color all summer long.
(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)
(NOTE TO EDITORS: Norman Winter receives complimentary plants to review from the companies he covers.)©2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC