07
November
2011

Impatiens 'Patchwork Lavender'

imp_patchlavenderA new pink Impatiens from Ball Horticulture for 2012 is ‘Patchwork Lavender’. It’s not a true lavender, but a cool pink with a touch of lavender. In order to discuss this Impatiens, we must first step aside and ask a simple question:

Does the market really need another pink Impatiens? To me, the answer hinges on who you are.

If you handle a lot Impatiens, and you have noticed that some cultivars run out of gas too early, then you should look at the Patchwork series. They are, simply put, performance Impatiens.

The Patchwork series is a collection of three colors, fairly new to the market but available. ‘Lavender’ is brand new this year. We grew a small production crop of ‘Pink Shades’ (a warm pink) and ‘Peach Prism’ (apricot) last year.  Ball also gave us some ‘Lavender’ for trial, so we have some working experience with these plants.

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The distinctive feature of the Patchwork Impatiens is the small pansy face on the flower. It comes across as a subtle bi-color—a darker rosy pink surrounded by pastel-colored petals. It has a nice polka-dot effect when grown on top of a large container or mass planted in a bed. While it’s very nice, in the end . . . it’s still a pink impatiens.

But . . . these impatiens are different.

To me, as a grower, color is half of the story. The other half is holding power—the ability to keep the color going and going strong; the ability to buffer the shocks of weather and climate and customers, once you sell the plant. The standout performs well because it has the internal strength and structure to support that big color over the long haul.

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As it turns out, you can feel performance early on—when you pinch.

You want to feel some resistance when you pinch. Not a stringy or lanky pinch that you have to pry off the plant, and not a mushy squish that implies more water than plant, but a nice crisp break that feels healthy and substantial. You want to see a robust crown with good branching to support that color over time, and you want stems with a little stiffness and resistance for long-term strength.

Patchwork has it. The stems are a little thicker when you roll them in your fingers. They have more resistance when you give them a light squeeze. The crown is more robust, and there is better branching to support that big color down the road.

As the production crops grew out, I saw a cleaner, more polished finish to the pots. The mounding was more even and less lumpy. The dome was higher and nicer. It rounded well, if you know what I mean, and it took less maintenance to keep it clean. Over time, It gave me less trouble than other impatiens, and it looked better.

In short: Performance.

Its drawback is cost. This is a vegetative Impatiens, so it costs more to acquire and produce. But you get a significantly better plant with more blooms, better coverage and a more robust season of color than with other Impatiens. You get more than you pay for, but you do pay more.

So we return to our question: Does the market really need another Pink Impatiens?

If it is a performance Impatiens, a better Impatiens that can push against the cheap varieties and hold its value, then I would say, “Yes.”

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