There are a lot of popular flowering plants out there, but one of the more successful ones is impatiens, sometimes referred to as touch-me-not.
This genus of plants is easy to grow, and includes both annuals and perennials. Whether you grow them outdoors or keep them in a container in cooler climates, impatiens will provide beautiful blooms and more than 1,000 species, variants, and cultivars to choose from. One of the best aspects of this genus is how easy it is to propagate them.
How To Propagate Impatiens from Cuttings
While impatiens from seeds can be used for most impatiens plants, some cultivars and hybrids may produce seeds for only one parent plant or be sterile, while cuttings are a great alternative that makes clones.
Here’s everything you need to know to produce more of these lovely plants from their stem cuttings.
The Best Time to Propagate Impatiens
There are two different times to use this method, each with its own merits.
Spring is a great time to trim up your perennial and harvest some great cuttings.
However, many growers prefer to prune their impatiens in the fall, propagating the cuttings for planting in spring.
While this latter method seems ideal, it requires a warm place for your perennial impatiens to root themselves over the winter months.
Thus, you may wish to wait until spring if you can’t produce greenhouse conditions or lack an appropriate space for the plantlets to thrive.
Gathering Your Clippings
As always, take a good look at your plant for any signs of infestation or disease so you can make sure the cuttings will be healthy.
Choose the day after watering so your plant will be well hydrated, and begin your pruning process using sterilized shears.
For propagation purposes, the cutting you choose should be 3 to 6” inches long (4” inches tends to be the most popular size) and from the tip of a thicker, non-flowering branch.
Cut below a node, making sure the cutting has at least two leaf nodes and a few leaves on it.
Remove any leaves from the bottom half of your clipping so the plant will have more room to root.
You only need 2 to 4 leaves for the cutting to thrive, and you can choose to dip the end in rooting hormone to speed up the process further.
Indoor Soil Propagation
Get a nursery tray or shallow pot and fill it with a well-draining potting mix.
You may choose to add some perlite to help prevent packing and improve drainage.
Dampen the soil and poke a hole about half the length of your cutting.
Impatiens have somewhat fragile branches, so this step will help ensure the stem isn’t damaged when planting.
Insert your cutting and add a little more water to help the potting soil settle around it.
Put the new plantlets in a spot with bright, indirect light and a warm ambient temperature that’s free of drafts.
It will take a few weeks for your impatiens cutting to become established, and the main giveaway will be its first new set of true leaves.
Outdoor Soil Propagation
This process is very similar to indoor methods, but there are a few considerations since you can’t simply move the plant to another spot when problems arise.
Pick a nice partially shaded spot and till the ground thoroughly, removing any stones or other obstructions.
Ensure the soil is well-drained by placing a substrate layer of coarse gravel below the planting area or mixing in some perlite.
Water the area, then poke a small hole about 2” inches deep to insert the cutting.
Add a little more water to help the soil settle around your cuttings, and water afterward only when the soil is dry.
When the plant begins showing new leaves, it’s a good sign the plant has been established.
Starting Cuttings In A Container With Water Propagation
What is it about plants that make the ones which hate water often the best for water propagation?
Sadly, your cuttings won’t tell you, but you’ll be able to enjoy this little hypocrisy.
Grab a glass or clear plastic cup and fill it with room temperature distilled water to just below the rim.
Pro Tip: Covering the glass with plastic wrap and poking a hole just large enough for the stem can make life a lot easier.
Next, insert your cutting, so the first nodes are in contact with the water.
Be sure not to let the leaves come into contact with the water’s surface, as this can lead to leaf rot.
Place the container in a warm spot that gets plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. No direct sunlight.
Replace the water every 1 to 2 days and ensure it doesn’t get too warm.
If it feels like the water is warmer than room temperature, shift the plantlet to a slightly shadier spot, as the sun may be cooking your plant.
You’ll likely see roots beginning to form in only a few days, but the plant will need a couple of weeks to grow a strong enough root system for planting.
Once the roots are about 2” inches long, you can transplant the new impatiens to a pot or garden.
Many growers prefer to pot longer-living impatiens plants until they mature so that the resulting plant will be hardier once planted in the garden.