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Impatiens bombycina - "Parrot Impatiens"

Welcome to the rare Impatiens bombycina, a very unusual species from rainforests of Uganda and neighboring Congo in east Africa.  Its bizarre blooms have a close resemblance to my Parrot Impatiens, except they are raspberry colored and are covered with fuzzy hairs, as if dusted with sugar!  This is a first-rate houseplant that blooms all year long and is easy to grow.  It is quite rare in cultivation, and rarely seen for sale.

Impatiens bombycina

Impatiens bombycina is a perennial species that typically grows 1 to 2 feet tall, but potentially larger.  Like the other "Parrot Impatiens", it has an upright, tree-like shape and rigid stems.  The leaf stems are an attractive red, and the undersides of the leaves develop beautiful red markings between the veins.  The blooms emerge straight off the main stem, instead of from the new growth like many Impatiens.  The large blooms could be described as seahorse-shaped and are 1 inches tall.  The species name "bombycina" is Latin for "silky".  I'm not quite sure of the purpose of the silky hairs, but they add a whimsical touch to this unique plant.

Impatiens bombycina

The plant seems to be happiest between about 55 and 80 degrees F (13-27C).  It can tolerate warmer conditions if nights are cool (below 65F / 18C).  It's possible that hot days with warm nights might stress it.  I don't think it can take any frost.  It grows well in a pot in bright shade or filtered sunlight.  Protect it from strong afternoon sun.  Like most Impatiens, it enjoys fertile, well-draining soil kept evenly moist, and at least 40% humidity.  In the right conditions, it's an easy, low-maintenance plant.

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