Sometimes referred to as the spotted touch-me-not, the jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) can flourish in environments that many other plants can't tolerate. This includes in soggy soil and deep shade. It's a Native American wildflower that appears to glisten and even sparkle when wet--which is what earned its common name.
The jewelweed is technically an annual plant, although once established it can successfully grow on its own due to its ability to self-sow. These plants bloom in the late spring to early fall and they attract and various wildlife, including bees, butterflies, and birds like songbirds and hummingbirds.
Most commonly grown as a bedding annual, the jewelweed can be found in the wild growing in drainage areas, stream banks, and in bogs.
They grow to be about three to five feet tall and produce either orange or yellow flowers that are speckled with reddish-brown spots. The flowers are followed by seed capsules that will burst open at the slightest touch and are known to explosively fling seeds in every direction. This is why they are also referred to as touch-me-nots.
|Botanical Name||Impatiens capensis|
|Mature Size||3-5 feet|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun/partial shade|
|Soil Type||Moist, organic soil|
|Hardiness Zones||2 - 11, USA|
Jewelweed Plant Care
The jewelweed is considered an easy plant to grow and will require little hands-on care once it's established, providing it's planted in an area where the soil remains moist. Better yet, the dense growth of these plants can actually help discourage the development of weeds.
Jewelweed plants grow higher when they are located in clusters, so if seeds are sown close together, the plants can help support each other and develop taller stems. If you'd like to keep your jewelweed plants on the shorter side, be sure to space the seeds farther apart.
The jewelweed should be planted in a location that's exposed to either full sun or partial shade. These plants can tolerate more sun when planted in climates with cooler summers.
The natural habitats of this plant are moist areas, such as woodland edges and marshes, so they will naturally require more frequent watering. The jewelweed will wither if the soil becomes too dry for a prolonged amount of time.
Though the jewelweed can survive even in waterlogged soil, you'll want to aim to keep the soil evenly moist, and applying a thick mulch can help.
The jewelweed plant requires a rich, organic soil that remains moist. If the soil lacks organic matter when planting, you can dig in a thick layer of compost (or even rotted manure) before planting.
Temperature and Humidity
Tthe jewelweed plant is very vulnerable to frost at any stage of its growth, and it will die when exposed to extremely cold temperatures.
The jewelweed plant doesn't necessarily require fertilizer when planted in rich soil, but you can incorporate compost in summer if your plants aren’t growing well.
Thanks to the touch-me-not bearing pods full of seeds that explode at even the slightest contact, this plant can easily disperse seeds that readily germinate in the right conditions. This means you could end up with an abundance of jewelweeds in your garden without even trying.
Dry jewelweed seeds are typically stratified at 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two to three months before planting as this offers a better chance of successful germination.
For best results, plant your jewelweed seeds in the early spring, when the temperatures are still cool but there's enough sunlight to support the germination process.
Though it can be difficult to prevent this plant from propagating on its own (via its explosive seed pods), pruning the plant before the process occurs and removing its seed pods can help control the spread of the plant in your garden.
Growing in Containers
If you're planting your jewelweed plants in colder weather, starting the seeds indoors is a great option. The jewelweed can be cultivated inside (ideally in either a sunny room or greenhouse), and then moved outdoors when they are mature enough. When planting jewelweed in containers, be sure that it contains sufficient drainage and that the soil is kept moist at all times.