Ready to add another irresistible flower to your wishlist? We know, most gardeners are usually afraid of flowering plants due to their overall picky personality. But what if we told you that this flower is both cute and low-maintenance? Keep reading to get to know Touch-me-not plants better and we promise you won’t regret it!
Impatiens balsamina is an annual and herbaceous species of flowering plant that belongs to the Balsaminaceae family. This stunning flower is commonly known in cultivation as Touch-me-not, Balsam flower, Spotted snapweed, Rose balsam, or Garden balsam.
Touch-me-not plants are native to several regions of Eastern Asia, such as India, China, and Myanmar. These flowers have become naturalized and are pretty invasive in a few islands of the Pacific Ocean. They grow mostly around villages and in other semi-inhabited areas.
Touch-me-not flowers are pretty popular ornamental plants in tropical and subtropical regions. They look absolutely charming in various landscape decorations, cottage gardens, beds and borders, or as ground covers. And if you do not have enough room in your garden, no worries! These plants can also make for nice-looking potted companions and will bring a dash of colour to any empty spot from your home.
- The hypnotic flowers of Balsam are a point of interest to several species of pollinators. In general, these plants attract bees, butterflies, and some nectar-feeding birds.
- In alternative medicine, people used various parts of Touch-me-not plants to treat disease and skin afflictions. While their flowers were an effective remedy for burns, the juice from their leaves was great for snakebites and warts.
- Asians appreciated these plants for their ability to treat problems like fractures or rheumatism. Moreover, Korean folks invented a medicine called bongseonhwa dae and used it as a treatment for numerous digestive ailments including gastritis.
- In our days, some Vietnamese people wash their hair with an extract of Touch-me-not plants. They consider this species a notable stimulant for hair growth.
- These plants still play a big part in Korean daily life and beauty tricks. People mix crushed Touch-me-not flowers with alum to produce a semi-permanent and orange dye for fingernails.
- Touch-me-not plants self-seed and tend to spread as they wish. They require a roomy spot in the garden and plenty of space to grow.
- Although these plants are not very toxic, they can cause some problems if ingested in large quantities. For safety purposes, keep them in locations where your curious children or furry friends cannot reach them.
- Touch-me-not flowers are ideal companions to other species of flowering plants, such as Azaleas, Begonias, Camellias, Daphnes, Forget-me-nots, Fuchsias, Rhododendrons, or Summersweets.
Touch-Me-Not Features: An Overview
- Balsam a.k.a. touch-me-not belongs to the Impatiens genus that contains more than 1000 species of flowering plants. Most species are herbaceous perennials or annuals with succulent stems.
- Touch-me-nots are annual plants that can reach between 8 and 30 inches (20-75 cm) in height. In beds or containers, these flowers usually remain pretty small in size.
- Their foliage consists of simple, elliptical to lanceolate, and dark green leaves that grow spirally arranged on straight, thick, soft, and greenish to red-burgundy stems.
- The leaves measure from 1 to 3.5 inches (2.5-9 cm) in length and 0.4 to 1 inch (1-2.5 cm) in width. They come along with deeply serrated margins.
- During their blooming period, Touch-me-not plants exhibit alluring inflorescences that contain one or two showy flowers. They flower from late spring to early fall.
- The blossoms have 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm) in diameter and 4-5 delicate petals. They are cup-shaped and come in various shades of white, red, pink, or purple.
- In place of their flowers, Touch-me-not plants produce hairy fruits called capsules. They are 1-3 inches (2.5-7.5 cm) in both length and width, green to golden yellow, and dehiscent, splitting open at maturity.
- Their fruits explode and spread their seeds when someone touches them. The seeds appear ripe and play a big part in propagating Touch-me-not plants.
In terms of lighting, Touch-me-not flowers do well in all conditions that range from full sunlight to partial shade. To grow at their best, these plants need at least six hours of bright and direct light daily. However, in regions with harsh afternoon sunlight, it is wise to protect them from any direct sunlight exposure. They can also tolerate full shade, but will not show as many flowers as usual.
Usually, Touch-me-not plants thrive in warm and humid weather or average room temperatures. Although they are big lovers of warm environments, their foliage can turn brown and scorch in extreme summer temperatures. These flowers cannot withstand cooler temperatures that drop below 32 °F (0 °C). In climates with cold fall or winter months, you must grow your plants in pots and bring them inside during these seasons.
Several pets like aphids, mealybugs, thrips, and spider mites can bother these delicate Balsam flowers. The most common symptoms of infected plants include curled, discoloured, or even distorted leaves. If you notice any of these signs on your plants, you must first remove the intruders with bare hands. It is also important to provide your plants with weekly applications of neem oil or suitable insecticides/pesticides, if necessary
When it comes to their growing medium, you can give Touch-me-not plants the time of their life in almost any type of soil. However, they will show the best growth in well-draining soils that are rich in nutrients and organic matter. The substrates should also be slightly acidic to neutral, with a pH range from 6.1 to 7.5. To improve drainage, you can mix a bit of compost with the soil before planting.
If you want to grow Touch-me-not flowers indoors, make sure the pots have drainage holes at the bottom. These plants require plenty of room to grow healthy and happy. Choose a container that allows you to plant your flowers at a distance of 12 to 18 inches (30-46 cm) between each other. And when they start to outgrow their pots, transplant your babies in another container that is one size larger than the current one.
You don’t really need to worry about feeding these versatile and easy-going plants. During their growth period, your Touch-me-not plants can benefit from regular feedings with a balanced and slow-release flower fertilizer once every two weeks.
Like most flowering plants, Touch-me-not buddies need a little extra attention only during their growing season. These plants thrive in slightly humid areas and perform best if you provide them with plenty of water. However, they are pretty sensitive to over-watering, so you must adopt a suitable watering routine for your beloved flowers.
Make sure you always check the soil before watering again to avoid soggy conditions or waterlogging. When the soil feels dry to the touch, give your thirsty plants a nice soaking. Touch-me-not plants will bloom sporadically only if you maintain their soil constantly damp.
Depending on the environmental conditions, the frequency of watering may vary. During the hot summer months, Touch-me-not plants will require more water than usual to produce flowers. On the other hand, under-watered plants will stop blooming and even lose their vigour.
Touch-me-not plants are annual species, so many gardeners propagate them regularly to have them around next year. In general, the chances to find transplants of these flowers in markets or nurseries are pretty low. But no worries, gardener! You can propagate your Touch-me-not plants at home easily to enjoy their gorgeous flowers for as long as possible.
The propagation method we are using today is probably the most beginner-friendly: starting Touch-me-not plants from seed. This method shows nice results pretty fast and also comes with an interesting and very helpful feature. Touch-me-not fruits have a sheath that opens only when the contained seeds are ready for germination.
Basically, all you have to do at first is to pay a little extra attention to your plants and collect as many seeds as you can when the time is right. Once you have the seeds, sow them in a container or bed filled with fresh potting soil.
Keep in mind that Touch-me-not seeds respond well to propagation in indoor settings. Moreover, direct light gives a boost to germination, so make sure you do not cover your seeds with soil. If you maintain the substrate at a temperature of 70 °F (21 °C) and moist, germination usually occurs four days after sowing.
When the temperatures drop to 60 °F (16 °C) at night, your Touch-me-not seedlings are ready for transplanting. Plant the seedlings outdoors in groups of five to seven at about one foot (30 cm) apart. You can also transplant your babies in pots to surprise your beloved family members or friends with a lovely gift.
Now that you have found how adorable and easy-going Touch-me-not plants can be, you are surely curious to start growing them in your garden. These flowers will cause no trouble in scenarios with bright light, warm temperatures, well-draining soils, and a suitable watering routine. And if you decide to propagate them you will have these beauties around for a very long time!
You are now ready to start growing and caring for Forget-me-nots! Share your experience in the comments below.