are impatiens from seed really that finicky?

Dave_zone_5(Zone 5a/4b Wisc)March 3, 2004

This is my first year growing impatiens from seed. I am growing a few types of "African" impatiens.

Everything I have heard/read about starting these from seed says that impatiens are one of the most finicky plants to start from seed as it requires relatively constant germination temperatures. The packets say to expect germination in 18-28 days.

Well, the soil temps of the flats has ranged from 65F to 85F and I have 90% germination at 9 days. I used bottom heat and a humidity dome until they began sprouting, now I am using bottom heat (for awhile longer) and a 400watt HPS hung about 5' above them with no dome and bottom watering as necessary. Ambient temps range from 68F by day to 60F by night. I would put starting these seeds on a difficulty scale somewhere around marigolds which are ridiculously easy.

Did I just get lucky or is the difficulty in germinating impatiens just overstated? Perhaps the varieties I am starting are easier than others?

Trying to understand what was supposed to be hard about this while hoping I am not cursing myself ;-)

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kdjoergensen

Impatiens are not difficult to germinate in my experience (after all, I can do it, so it must be easy). We get best results with constant temperature, but that being said, very high temperatures seems to have affected them the worst compared to low temperatures. New Guiney impatiens are generally germinated at higher temperatures than impatiens Walleriana.

I don't recall the exact number of days, but I believe it is around 10 days (a little more than one week). We usually see them start germinating about day 10 and continuing for another 3-4 days.

Damping off have been a problem but we solve it by uncovering them immediately the first signs of germination.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2004 at 4:48PM
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MrImpatiens(Zone 9 CA)

Dave
Sounds like you are doing a good job. Keep it up. The Impatiens that you find in the trade are the easy ones. Impatiens species for the most part are hard this is why more have not been introduced. Cuttings are the prefer way for wild ones. Of the 120 species that I have only 10 or so have germinated from seed for me easily. Most Impatiens species seeds will not survive very long in storage they need to be kept moist at all times. Basically onces they pop put them on in some soil and pray.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2004 at 5:05PM
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Dave_zone_5(Zone 5a/4b Wisc)

Thanks for the responses. It would appear that I have my hands on some "new/improved" commercial varieties that are easier to germinate and grow than others.

Very well, I have no problem with "easy". ;-)

    Bookmark   March 3, 2004 at 7:39PM
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Gutti(z5 IL)

hmmm, i'd have to say no to that aswell. I rec'd my "shady lady glow girl mix from parkseed in the fall of 2003. Planted them a bit early (bad me), and currently have 10" tall plants in full bloom. ;)

they were planted from seed, used bottom heat, water, and a cover till the first one sprouted, then uncovered w/heat until transplantable. currently on a 5' table under a 500watt conagro hps+, w/quite a few friends, and range from 3" to about 8-10" tall..

I feel blessed.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2004 at 11:44PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

65F to 85F is quite a narrow range of temperatures and most people would need a heating mat to maintain that in February. 85F is pushing it a bit, some varieties go dormant at that temperature. I think the New Guineas and the F1 hybrids in particular prefer higher temperatures, I've seen recommendations as high as 30C (86F). Temperature drops below about 65F are supposed to cause abortion of germinated seeds, and my experience has been that cold nights will prevent seeds germinated in a paper towel from ever putting up seed leaves. Humidity seems to be the most important thing, keep it near 100% until the seed leaves appear.

All seeds are easy to germinate if you give them the right conditions :) I have found impatiens a bit tricky. Maybe cold nights were my problem, but I have to wonder if some of the seeds were a bit too old.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2004 at 3:22PM
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raul_in_mexico

Couldn´t really tell, here they appear on their own even in between the cracks of the concrete.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2004 at 8:47PM
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Dave_zone_5(Zone 5a/4b Wisc)

As a follow up to my original post, I am now looking at roughly 80% germination of the 2 types of imaptiens I started. I removed the humidity dome a few days ago because I was having mold issues.

Right next to them in another flat I started geraniums and only have about 10% germination so far. Kind of curious to me.

Anyway, while I am sure there is a too cold and too hot temp for germination, the reading I had done on impatiens indicated that the range should remain within the 70s. I tried to provide that, but since the impatiens and geraniums were the first things to get started this year I had some kinks in my system to work out which is what is responsible for the 20F fluctuation.

It is nice to know that the seeds I have are not as finicky as I had been led to believe otherwise I wouldn't have many sprouted right now.

The geraniums I don't much care about as I have enough for containers even with the 10% germination, the bed I was going to put the rest in can be filled in with other things and the other things would probably be a better fit anyway.

The impatiens on the other hand I need a ton of and there really isn't anything I could replace them with for their intended use.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2004 at 11:03PM
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craigbear(z6 NYBuffalo)

My Impatiens sprouted after 6 days. I planted them in 72 cell seed starters with a dome. They doing well under my one shop light with with plant/aquarium bulbs.They are Impatiens Wallerina. Not bad for a Newbie I think.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2004 at 2:00AM
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grenthum(z5 MI USA)

I have had difficulty with New Guinieas and Impatiens myself. I did much better this year with the heat mat (actually grandma's bed warmer) and higher quality seeds. Almost a 95% germination rate. Much better than last year with a 20% rate. Seems you may have hit the perfect conditions the first time around.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2004 at 9:09AM
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GreenKnees2(z 5 Ohio)

Question on using bottom heat with seeds [esp. impatiens]: Is the heat to be turned on only when the grow lights are on, or do you turn off the heat when you turn off the lights? My New Guineas have no top growth yet, but obviously are sending down roots right now. They're in Propamatics from Gardeners Supply.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2004 at 2:22PM
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derfy(5 MI)

sure wish i had your luck skill or whatever
Just got off the phone with Seymor seed and got a credit on double orange and double various. Out of 2 packets got 4 sprouts. Bottom heat at 75, dome, mister etc., etc. I give up after 5 years. Cuttings much better method if you can find the variety you want. Singles will reseed in the beds. First year trying African impatiens, about the same luck

Gave up on begonias from seed few years ago

    Bookmark   April 1, 2004 at 11:09AM
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MemphisLilli(8a TN)

My dear hubby built me a greenhouse last fall and I overwintered a pot of impatiens along with several pots of other tropicals. This spring I have impatients coming up in quite a few of the potted tropicals--even some potted tropicals that were located at the opposite end of the greenhouse from the pot of impatients. This has made me wonder if impatients are all that hard to grow from seed and I may try it next year.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2004 at 3:21PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

Lilli, you have made a very interesting observation. When we attempt to germinate seeds indoors in a very controlled environment, we may get very high germination rates. But if we get the conditions slightly wrong then we may get zero germination because all the seeds are exposed to the same controlled conditions.

When a plant scatters hundreds or thousands of seeds far and wide, on the surface, down cracks, in the shade or the sun, in a wet spot or a dry spot, only a tiny fraction of them will germinate, but almost always some of them germinate.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2004 at 12:25PM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

I am a newbie at gardening, but of the three kinds of impatiens I sowed indoors, only the Macarena came up. I started them in April and didn't get blooms until late July, mid-August. The plants are rather small. I'm bringing them indoors for the fall and winter only because it took so much to get them going.
I tried "Wild Thing" and another kind, of which neither germinated.
Derfy, single flowered types will reseed? Do you do something to protect their beds over the winter? If I could get the Impatiens I purchased as plants to reseed I'd be incredibly happy. There is one with huge cherry red single flowers that has overrun the beds (even with the lousy summer weather we've had here). I'd love it if those came back next year.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2004 at 8:41AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I saved some impatients seed because I noticed that my plants were reseeding themselves. I always thought they would probably be hard to grow from seed. I discovered that they are one of the easiest plants to grow from seed. My seedlings resemble their parents with a little variation.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2004 at 2:02AM
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MegNYC(z6NY)

Could somebody please answer the question about the heat mat ... leave it on all the time, or only wnen you have the gro lights on?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2004 at 5:55PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

All the time for Impatiens, they like to be warm day and night.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2005 at 4:10PM
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jordung(03895)

I am about to germinate some impatiens here in Rhode Island. I will use these suggestions and if anyone can give me more please do.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2005 at 8:23PM
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jaci49(Michigan)

I am germinating some also (seeds from cuttings I potted), indoors in a shallow tray. I have been having good luck with just constant moisture and indoor lighting but these ones are under a flourescent light. I'm going to see what percent germinates (I never bothered to count before).

    Bookmark   February 27, 2005 at 9:34PM
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ciaobella(Wisconsin)

Last year I did veggies and cosmos from seed, and had such a horrible problem with damping off that I swore I'd never try again. But this year I did petunias and impatiens (so far). The petunias all germinated in about 10 -14 days, with the use of a heating mat. The impatiens for the most part have done nothing, and it's now been about 3 weeks. I'm thinking of throwing them away. I am wondering if maybe it's the rather cheap seeds I bought....

    Bookmark   March 25, 2005 at 3:46PM
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krp58(Maine z4/5)

I started mine and got 10 plants out of all those seeds BUT, the ones that grew are awesome! I was wondering if I should pinch them back and can you make other plants by cuttings? I thought I read that on here above. I also didn't know that you could collect the seeds from them and grow the following year!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2005 at 7:45AM
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cindip(z7 NC)

I think if you pinch them back they become bushier plants.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2005 at 10:09AM
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Barbara Evers

I planted 3 packets of impatiens seeds (each packet in a different container), about 4 weeks ago, into pots, using moist potting soil, that were covered with plastic and used bottom heat. I used bright fluorescent lights. House temp was about 20 c (70 f ?) after about 1 week, one pot germinated. Time went by, and the other two pots showed no life... Until a couple of days ago. Now there are many small seedlings in the "lifeless" pots. Conditions seemed identical, only the flower colours differed. Anyway, if at first there is no progress, don't give up hope.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 9:55AM
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mantorvillain(z4bMN Dodge)

Well heck! I had my seeds on a heat mat. Aquarium thermometer indicated air temp of 78 but then I put it into the mix in a couple of cells and it read 98 F!!! They're now off the heat mat just under fluorescents...hope i didn't cook everything.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 6:54PM
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