Periodically trimming impatiens results in more flowers.

How to Trim Impatiens

by Jenny Harrington

Delicate pink, white and violet impatiens (Impatiens spp.) flower throughout summer in shaded garden beds. These flowers grow best in cool weather and away from the heat of the sun. Impatiens sometimes get leggy or overgrown with weak stems in the middle of the season, which results in fewer flowers and unattractive plants. Proper trimming, combined with enough water and fertilizer, helps keep them compact and brings them back to their former glory if they do get out of control.

Pinch off the top 1 to 2 inches of each plant stem after each flush of flowering. Grasp the stem between your forefinger and thumb and squeeze off the tip just above a leaf or bud. This encourages a fresh flush of buds and compact growth.

Cut back the entire plant to within 3 inches of the ground in midsummer if the impatiens become leggy or begin flowering poorly. Remove the clippings from the area.

Water impatiens one to two times a week, or when the top 2 inches of soil begin to dry. Provide about 1 inch of water each time, which will moisten the soil 6 inches deep. Consistent soil moisture prevents legginess and minimizes the need for frequent trims.

Fertilize impatiens every six weeks, preferably after trimming or pinching, by sprinkling 3/4 pound of 13-13-13 fertilizer over every 25 square feet of impatiens bed. Apply the fertilizer 6 inches from the base of the plants and water it in after application. The fertilizer provides nutrients for a fresh flush of growth.

Items you will need

  • Pruning shears
  • 13-13-13 fertilizer


  • You can cut dead or damaged leaves and stems from the plant at any time.
  • Clean shears minimize disease problems. Rinse the shears in 1 part bleach combined with 9 parts water to disinfect them.
  • Although impatiens are usually treated as annual plants, they survive year-round in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11.

About the Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

Photo Credits

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