Rose balsam (or garden balsam) is an erect, sparsely-branched, tender annual that typically grows to 60cm tall. Although an old garden favorite since at least Victorian times, it has been eclipsed in popularity in recent years.
Cup-shaped single to mostly double flowers (to 5cm diameter) with incurved spurs come in various shades of pink, rose, red, purple, white. Flowers are often spotted.
The double camellia-like cultivars are currently the most popular plants in the species. Flowers bloom singly or in small clusters from the leaf axils throughout the growing season. Elliptic to lance-shaped, deeply serrate leaves (to 8-9cm long) are light green.
Succeeds in any reasonably good soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist well-drained humus rich soil in a cool site.
Succeeds in sun or semi-shade. Plants are not frost hardy, but can be grown outdoors in Britain by sowing the seed in a greenhouse and planting out after the last expected frosts.
This plant has seed capsules that spring open forcibly as the seed ripens to eject the seed a considerable distance. The capsules are sensitive to touch even before the seed is ripe, making seed collection difficult but fun.
Genus - Impatients
Species - Balsamina
Variety - Double Mixture
Common name - Balsam Camellia
Pre-Treatment - Not-required
Hardiness zones - 2 - 11
Height - 0.60 m
Spread - 0.30 m
Plant type - Annual flower
Exposure - Full Sun, Partial Shade
Growth rate - Fast
Soil PH - Acid, neutral, alkaline
Soil type - Moist, organically rich, well-drained
Water requirements - Average, high
Landscape uses - Shady beds, borders and woodland gardens. Edging along walks or paths. Containers.
Bloom season - June - October
Leaf / Flower color - Light Green / Pink, rose, red, purple, white
Balsam is a prolific self-sower. After one season of growth, it generally reappears from self sown seeds the next year.
After frost has passed, scatter seeds where desired, or sow seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost.
Do not cover the seeds with soil, as they need light to germinate.
Until the seeds germinate, cover the seed trays with clear plastic to maintain high humidity. Water from below to prevent damping off.
Germination temperature: +18+24C. Days to emergence: 7 to 14.
Information source: http://www.gardening.cornell.edu.
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