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Impatiens gomphophylla

Impatiens gomphophylla

Germinating the seeds

 

Getting started --  The seeds sprout best when given a few weeks of cool temperatures, such as in the refrigerator.  The tips below explain the process. 

When to plant -- Plant your seeds when you receive them for best germination.

 You may plant each seed in individual, small containers.  Or you plant them all in a single container and then separate the seedlings later.  Either way, use pots with drainage holes

 For soil, use a well draining mix high in organic matter.  A typical mix is 2 parts potting soil to 1 part perlite or coarse sand.  An alternate mix is 3 parts perlite to 2 parts coir fiber or peat moss, with some slow-release fertilizer mixed in.

 Fill the pots with soil and place a seed or 2 on the surface.  If you have  long-fiber sphagnum moss (not ground peat moss), sprinkle some on the surface. This helps retain moisture around the seeds while allowing light to reach them, which aids germination.  This photo shows how much moss to use.  If you don't have the moss, sprinkle some of your soil mix around the seeds.  Add water until everything is evenly moist (but not soggy).

 Enclose the pots in a sealed container and place them in the refrigerator.  Mark your calendar to remove them after 4 weeks.

 Then move them to an area with day temperatures between 60 to 77 degrees F (16-25C), and nights between 50-78 F (10-25C).  Avoid letting them get above 80 F (27C).  I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.

 Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the surface soil always stays moist.  A plastic dome or bag is good for maintaining moisture, but leave it open a crack to allow some fresh air in.  You may need to drip a few drops of water over the seeds every day to keep the seeds moist.

 A fluorescent or LED bulb kept 4 inches (10 cm) away provides the right amount of light.  Protect from direct sun. 

 They should start germinating in 1-2 months, but they may take 3 months.  Increase air ventilation slightly after sprouting to prevent rot, but continue keeping the soil surface moist for 2-3 weeks after sprouting.

Growing onward...

Lighting -- This Impatiens prefers bright conditions.  Protect it from direct sun the first 3-4 weeks, unless it's early-morning sun.  Older plants flower best with at least a few hours of morning sun + filtered afternoon sun.

Fertilizing -- For the first month, it's best to give a very dilute (1/8 strength) liquid fertilizer.  Hydroponic fertilizer is perfect for young seedlings, since it is easily absorbed and complete.  After the first month, feed about every 2 months with a slow-release (pelleted or organic) fertilizer, or feed monthly with a liquid fertilizer at half strength.

Transplanting -- When your plants are 2-3 months old, you may gently transfer them to a larger pot.  Water the soil first, and avoid letting the soil ball break apart, which can damage the roots.  After transplanting, give no sun or liquid fertilizer the first week.

Watering -- Aim to keep the soil evenly moist, never letting it dry out completely.  You may use a moisture meter probe to monitor the moisture levels down in the root zone.

Climate -- It seems to prefer temperatures below 85 F (29C), with nights below 65F (18C).  The tuber reportedly can go dormant in hot weather, but consider it experimental in hot conditions.  This is a tuberous species, and the tuber should survive down to at least 25 F (-4C) if well mulched.  You may save the seeds each year and grow the plant as an annual. 

 Above about 45-50% humidity is best.  Indoors, if the humidity gets too low, consider using an ultrasonic room humidifier, which you can buy at home improvement stores and thrift shops.

Pests to watch for -- Watch for any pests that can affect your other plants.  Start with insecticidal soap spray before using stronger remedies.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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