Most people when they think of Impatiens think of Busy Lizzies, but there are over a 1000 different species spread around the globe, except for South America and Australia. They can be divided into two groups; the helmet type and the flat type. Impatiens mirabilis belongs to the helmet type. It originates from Thailand where it grows in warm tropical conditions. It can grow into a small tree reaching a size of up to 3 meters. It has a distinct caudex whereas most Impatiens do not have a caudex at all. There are only about a dozen species known that have a caudex. Despite the fact that it grows in tropical conditions, it can take quite a bit of dryness and survive happily on a minimum of water. In the winter it will lose all its leaves and will start growing again in early spring. The flowers are produced in the summer, yellow being the more common colour. Pink ones also exist, but are much rarer. If you cross the yellow with the pink, the yellow is more dominant and you will eventually lose the pink ones.

Propagation is mainly by seed, but cuttings – although difficult – are also possible. If you want to catch the seed, make sure to put something around the seed pod or they will spring all over the place. The seed can be kept up to 3 months before sowing, but can lose viability quickly after that. Flowering from seed can take 3 to 4 years.

There is another species of caudiciform Impatiens in cultivation, I. kerriae, which is very similar and often confused with I. mirabilis. The main difference is that the kerriae has a single flower at the end of the flowering stem whereas the mirabilis has a number of flowers on one stem. The mirabilis is becoming more readily available from speciast nurseries, which will help to ensure its survival.


Impatiens mirabilis (photo taken at Holm nursery)

Impatiens mirabilis (yellow form)

Hoya kerrii GPS 00145
This species is becoming well known now because of the heart-shaped leaf which make it an ideal gift for Valentine’s day. It is sold as the Sweetheart or Valentine’s hoya, but be aware that single leaves – often offered during the Valentine season – will not grow into a plant; it is much better to buy a rooted cutting. There are at least 3 types: a green one, a variegated one and an albo-marginata type. They are found throughout the Indo-China area.

Hoya kerrii

Hoya kerrii flower

Hoya kerrii leaves

Hoya kerrii leaf