Categories: Buzz

A Carnival of colours

Miguel Braganza

Flowers in one’s garden are an immense source of joy. Those who only have balconies facing the East or North can grown a few flowering plants like anthuriums, spathyphyllum, orchids and balsams, including the freely flowering impatiens. The best collection that I have ever seen is right here in Goa. Nicholas Sequeira is an unassuming man who lives not too far away from Lourdes Convent in the bustling village of Saligao. He is a patient man who has a stunning collection of impatiens right at his doorstep.

Impatiens or sultana, is botanically known as Imaptiens walleriana. The plant looks like and is closely related to the balsam or ‘chiddo’, (Impatiens balsamiana), that grows self-sown in Goa during the monsoon rains. After the periwinkle or sadafuli, vinca rosea (Catharanthus roseus) is one of the best known and most popular garden plants for its prolific flowers and ease in growing. It is an evergreen, perennial herb but is often grown as an annual. Impatiens walleriana is native to the tropical forests of East Africa, from where it has now spread all over the world.

The impatiens plants have bright green leaves, though variegated and red leaved varieties are also available now. The flowers are in a number of colours, from nearly blue to deepest red, salmon, orange, pink, white, striped, speckled and bicolor. The rose impatiens has double flowers that look like little roses. New Guinea impatiens is a hybrid which is more tolerant of sun, often has burgundy colored stems and leaves and often growing taller and more upright than other impatiens.

Impatiens are the most dependable summer annual though they bloom best in cool weather. The flowers cross-pollinate freely and produce a stunning mixture of flower colours that grow self-sown near the parent plants. It is one of the best and easiest flowering plants for shady areas.

The impatiens love well-drained, moist, fertile soil. Three parts of soil, one part of coco peat, and one part of compost may be used as a pot mix or for flower-beds. Pinch back the shoot tips if plants become ‘leggy’, lanky or overgrown, as they will in climates with long summer as in Goa. Manure regularly with compost and vermi-compost for continuous flowering. The areas that receive only the morning sun are best for impatiens. In hot summer climates such as ours it is best to plant in shady locations as plants will wilt under the hot sun even if well watered.

Impatiens can be multiplied by seed or cuttings in warm weather. Plants are easily available at the Friday Market in Mapusa as well as with some of the nurseries this season throughout Goa. Pick a few plants and see them multiply with very little effort.

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