Q: I have some particularly beautiful impatiens that I want to grow next year. Is there any way to keep them alive indoors over the winter?
A: There are three ways to keep your impatiens. You can simply dig a clump of the plants and keep them in an indoor pot for the winter. You’ll need to grow them in plenty of light to keep them healthy. Another option is to take 6 inch long stem cuttings and root them in water. When the roots have grown one half inch, transplant the cuttings into small pots filled with potting soil. The third choice is to collect the impatiens seeds and plant them next year. You could either start them indoors in March or plant them outdoors in late April. If you plant the seeds, remember that they need light in order to germinate. Sprinkle the seed on top of the soil but do not cover it with more earth.
Q: What is the best winter care for my New Guinea impatiens?
A: Unlike geraniums, New Guinea impatiens and common impatiens can not be forced into dormancy for the winter. They must be brought inside and cared for as a house plant. To make the job easier, prune the plants back now so they will be correctly sized for indoor life. If they are planted in the ground, dig them and put them in pots now. Put the plants in deep shade outdoors until fall so they won’t suffer “light deprivation” when they go indoors. Then, place them in your sunniest window and water only when necessary during the cold weather.