extremely leggy basket of impatiens - help?

silva_gardenNovember 2, 2009

I am just learning to garden, and my husband and I hope to get good at it together! In September I moved from the desert in Eastern Oregon to East Central Massachusetts, so the learning curve is pretty steep for me.

This summer we received a beautiful, huge, fluffy basket of bright pink impatiens, and it sort of took care of itself in a shady spot on the porch for most of the (extremely wet) summer. This autumn, though, I got very busy (we were married in early September in Oregon) and sadly neglected our pretty plant. Now things have calmed down and I am trying to heal this sweet little plant.

It's hanging in there, but it's extremely (extremely!) leggy with very sparse blossoms. A lot of its leaves are yellowing as well. I've been watering it enough to keep the soil moist, and I've kept it in indirect light in a cool place in our foyer.

I got it inside before that freak snowstorm in early October, so it isn't frostbitten, but it's really languishing. I am at a complete loss as to what to do to make it happy again. I'd really love to get it healthy again so that I can keep it for the whole winter and perhaps plant cuttings from it in our garden next spring.

So here are some questions: do you prune impatiens? If so, how? Should I repot it in an even bigger pot, or do I need to just cut it back and let it fluff back up? What about misting, fertilization, and temperature? I don't want to give up on our first plant!

Thank you so much for your help.

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oilpainter(3)

Before you do any cutting back give the leaves a spray of cold water. If you have a hand held shower spray the tub or shower stall is a good place to do it. Get the undersides of the leaves.

This is to get rid of any spider mite that may be lurking. They are miniscule bugs you can't see but a big infestation can kill a plant. They hatch out every 3 to 5 days, so can soon multiply. You don't know you have them until you see some mottling on the leaves and eventually webs. They love hot and dry conditions and hate wet and cold. A good thing to have on hand is insecticidal soap and give the plant a spray every week for a while.

Your plant is probably reacting to changes in light and growing conditions. You can cut them back to just a few leaves on each stem or leave the branches a little longer. The plant may weep a bit but it will soon heal. It will send out new side shoots from the leaf nodes(joints. Put them in a window and they will grow there until you can put them out next spring. Don't expect them to flower as profusely as they did outside, but they will flower.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 4:04PM
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