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Impatiens macrophylla

This is a rare look at the unusual Impatiens macrophylla.  It is a striking species, with vivid, red petioles, and terrific, banded stems that can grow 8 feet tall!  All throughout the year, it's decorated with exotic, shrimp-shaped blooms in vibrant shades of orange and red.  The plant comes from the rain forests of Sri Lanka in South Asia, where it is threatened due to deforestation.  This is a cool climate species that might not thrive in warmer areas.  In the right conditions, it is a choice collector's plant.  It's very hard to find and almost never seen for sale.

Impatiens macrophylla

Impatiens macrophylla is a perennial species with an upright growth habit.  It grows around 6 feet tall here in San Francisco, but it is reported to get 8 to 10 feet tall in the wild.  The red band around each node gives the stem a cool, striped look that is quite unusual for Impatiens.  As the name "macrophylla" suggests, the leaves get pretty large, averaging 6 to 10 inches long!  The stems of the leaves and flowers are an intense red.  Blooms appear in large numbers throughout much of the year.  The curiously-shaped flowers are 1 inches tall, with a slight resemblance to the "Parrot Impatiens".  Most of Sri Lanka's cloud forests have been destroyed to make room for agriculture, leaving this species' future uncertain.

Impatiens macrophylla

Impatiens macrophylla comes from around 6000 feet elevation, where the climate is cool, rarely getting above 80 degrees F.  I have no information on whether it will thrive in temperatures above the low 80s, so consider it experimental in warmer areas.  It has handled winter temperatures in the mid-30s, but i don't know if it can survive frost.  Fortunately it grows great indoors in a 5 gallon container.  Like most Impatiens, it prefers moist, well-draining soil, regular feeding, and some humidity.  It likes filtered sun or morning sun + bright shade.  Protect it from strong afternoon sun.

Impatiens macrophylla

 

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