How To Grow SunPatiens
This disease-resistant alternative to Impatiens walleriana from Sakata Ornamentals gives consumers a comparable, colorful option for their gardens and landscapes.
December 3, 2012
As part of an innovative breeding project, Sakata Ornamentals created an impatiens plant with a vigorous root system that can truly withstand and thrive in full sun, partial shade and heat. Each plant is also designed for a spectacular show in garden beds, containers and hanging baskets.
The SunPatiens series not only boasts the inherent capabilities to endure the environmental conditions that would cause walleriana types or traditional New Guinea varieties to shrivel and burn, but also delivers brilliant shows of massive color from spring to frost, as well. SunPatiens have a proven reputation among growers, landscapers and gardeners, and as downy mildew devastates Impatiens walleriana, SunPatiens are being used to re-shape landscapes around the globe.
SunPatiens Deliver Value
• SunPatiens allow growers the option to direct stick into finished containers from a 306 up to 5-inch pots, saving time, labor and money.
• SunPatiens root extremely fast and produce finished liners in just two weeks.
• Reduced crop time uses less energy and yields more turns in the same space.
• SunPatiens grow well over a wide temperature range, providing flexibility with production scheduling.
• Plants can be finished under cool conditions with petunias and geraniums, saving energy and eliminating the need for PGRs.
• SunPatiens flourish under the most extreme summer heat conditions and can extend the selling season.
The SunPatiens Family
SunPatiens are offered in a wide array of colors and three distinct habits to address the specific needs of your production and target market. The first step in producing a high-quality, successful crop is to select the varieties that best meet your production goals.
Compact Series: Compact SunPatiens are bred for shorter internodes and excellent branching for a dense, bushy plant with strong retail appeal. Available in seven colors, compact SunPatiens are the perfect choice for 306, quart, gallon and hanging basket production. Compact varieties do not require growth regulator applications if plants are not grown wet with high nutrition and produced under high light.
Spreading Series: Spreading SunPatiens have a mounding habit, versus the more upright, vase-shape of the vigorous series. Ideally suited for basket and premium patio pots, these plants also perform exceptionally well in landscapes, where a rounded, spreading form is preferred.
Vigorous Series: The vigorous SunPatiens name says it all. It’s the perfect plant where fast growing color is essential. While most commonly produced in larger containers, these plants cover a lot of bare ground fast and can be offered as 60 to 70 millimeter ready-to-plant liners. This package provides quick turns for the grower and is ideal for the commercial landscaper and home gardener looking to save labor and simplify planting.
SunPatiens Production Tips
Propagation: Whether unrooted SunPatiens cuttings are direct-stuck in a multi-pack cell or into a liner tray cell, the rooting period is approximately 21 days following these recommendations:
• Sterile and well-drained media
• pH of 5.8 to 6.3; EC less than 0.75 mmhos
• Light level of 1,500 to 2,000 foot candles
• Mist moderately the first three days and then apply only as needed to keep turgid
• 70°F to 75°F soil temperature for weeks one to two. Move to cooler temps and higher light in week three to avoid stretch and tone cutting.
• After roots develop, begin weekly fertilizer 65 to 75ppm N (Cal-Mag) and full minors.
• Significant water stress during the first three weeks may delay flowering.
• In terms of PGR use, a tank mix spray of 1,500 ppm B-Nine + 2ppm A-Rest may be applied to reduce stretch during low light periods.
Transplant to Finish: If SunPatiens cuttings have been rooted in liners and are ready for transplanting, the grow time will be approximately six to seven weeks. If the cuttings have been direct-stuck into multi-packs or small containers, the total grow time from sticking to finish will be approximately seven to eight weeks.
High light and water restrictions are the most effective means for controlling stretch. It also conditions and tones the plant for improved shelf life and less transplant shock for the end user. Cooler temperatures (65°F in the day and 55°F at night) can also be used to reduce stretch and save energy costs but can extend production time two to three weeks. Do not pinch SunPatiens, as it destroys the plant’s natural symmetry and delays flowering.
Combining water stress with high level chemical PGRs can lead to stunted plants. If needed, a 0.05 ppm Bonzi drench applied three weeks prior to sales will tone plants without any flowering delay.
Diseases And Insects: During propagation, prevent Botrytis cinerea (gray mold) by removing any damaged cuttings or dead tissue, providing good air movement and employing strict sanitary conditions. Preventative fungicide sprays will also aid preventing the development of Botrytis.
Rhizoctonia solani (fungal root rot) is a natural fungus that causes diseases such as damping-off, root rot, crown rot, stem cankers and web blight. Rhizoctonia is a main concern for growers who direct stick SunPatiens into larger containers or use poorly aerated media.
Fungus gnats and shore flies may also introduce and spread Rhizoctonia within a crop. Biological and chemical methods are available for controlling these insects. Sanitation is always the first defense against Rhizoctonia. Use sterile, soil-less growing medium, clean pots and flats, and keep field soil away from propagation areas. If preventative drenches are necessary, select those labeled as safe for use on New Guinea Impatiens. Always scout for thrips, whiteflies, aphids and leaf miners by setting out yellow or blue sticky cards and monitor insect populations closely. Apply the appropriate insecticides as needed, taking care to spray only according to label directions.
Ken Harr (firstname.lastname@example.org) is technical product manager for Sakata Ornamentals.