Jennifer Schultz Nelson
Extension Educator, Horticulture
New Guinea Impatiens Impatiens hawkeri 'Sonic Pink Magic'
Gardeners are a stubborn lot. For many it takes several failures for them to declare a particular plant is not suited for the location they are trying to grow it in. I am no exception. For much of graduate school I tried to grow New Guinea Impatiens on my apartment balcony, but all that grew was my frustration. Finally I had to admit that my balcony was just not the place for New Guineas.
The major factor was that my balcony had too much shade. While it is true that New Guineas will tolerate more sun than traditional impatiens, they also really don't like total shade. My balcony was in the deep shade most of the day, except for the very early morning. It just wasn't enough to keep the New Guineas going.
Having a new yard this summer, I figure it's like getting a clean slate. So once again, I was drawn to the New Guinea Impatiens at the garden center, and several ended up at my house. I purchased the variety 'Sonic Pink Magic' and gave them an eastern spot in my yard that gets plenty of morning sun. Plus, unlike most of my yard, there is actually some afternoon shade. So I planted the New Guineas and crossed my fingers.
With plenty of water and mulch, the plants took off. They seem very content and have tons of gorgeous three inch wide pink blooms striped with white. I've since learned that they are a new cultivar introduced in 2005, part of the 'Sonic' series. This series is filled with a wide variety of reds, pinks, purples and whites. Many have streaks or wide stripes of white on a colored background. Several have variegated foliage.
If you were wondering if New Guinea Impatiens actually are from New Guinea, the answer is yes. Back in 1970, Longwood Gardens and the USDA went on a joint plant collecting expedition. They collected Impatiens plants first in New Guinea, and later in Java and the Celebes Islands that have been the parents of cultivars in production today.
The first New Guinea Impatiens cultivars released were the 'Circus' series in 1972.