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Impatiens hians

The jungles of central Africa are home to some very unusual plants.. like Impatiens hians.  This rarely-seen species seems to think it's an orchid!  Its fascinating blooms are surprisingly large, and have a great color combination of deep red and chartreuse.  While it hardly looks like an Impatiens, it is quite easy to grow when given the right conditions.

Impatiens hians

Impatiens hians is a perennial species that trails along the ground up to 4 feet, while sending up vertical shoots 12 to 18 inches tall.  It has oversized leaves that are deeply ribbed and glossy, with a nice tropical look, as seen here.  The plant looks great when grown in a hanging planter, and would make an interesting vivarium plant.  Its unusual blooms are glossy and about 2 inches tall, with a funnel-shaped bottom that curls into a red spur.  Its red side petals flare out like outstretched arms, and the bloom basically looks like a hooded garden gnome!  It blooms the heaviest in winter, but it can flower other times of the year too if kept moist.

Impatiens hians

It grows well between about 55 and 80 degrees F (17-27C).  It can tolerate warmer conditions if nights are cool, but it might not thrive with the combination of hot days and warm nights.  It don't think it can survive frost.  It likes bright, filtered light, and will need some protection from strong afternoon sun.  Like most Impatiens, it prefers fertile, well-draining soil.  It seems to have the longest blooming period if the soil is kept rather wet.  Over about 50% humidity is best for this rain forest plant.

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