How to Grow and Care for SunPatiens

Three-Season Bloomers That Love Full Sun (Unlike Impatiens)

SunPatiens plant with rounded bright red flowers surrounded by dark green pointed leaves

The Spruce / K. Dave

In This Article

Impatiens are one of the most popular annual flowers. However, the light requirements of impatiens, especially common impatiens, limits where you can plant them. They do best in at least part shade and need protection from the sun, otherwise their foliage will scorch. 

Enter SunPatiens, an impatiens hybrid between New Guinea impatiens and wild impatiens that was bred by the Japanese company Sakata and introduced to the market in 2006. They are one the few plants that are known under their brand name and not under their botanical name. As their name indicates, SunPatiens are sun-loving plants, the first impatiens that thrive in full sun. 

SunPatiens have a long bloom period stretching over three seasons, from spring to fall until a heavy frost. The plants are typically larger, bushier, and bloom more prolifically than New Guinea impatiens, and their thick petals and leaves make them more resistant to disease and damage.

 Common name  SunPatiens®
 Botanical Name  Impatiens x hybrida
 Family Balsaminaceae 
 Plant Type  Annual
 Mature Size  16-34 in. tall, 14-21 in. wide
 Sun Exposure  Full sun, partial shade
 Soil Type   Loamy, sandy, silt, moist but well-drained
 Soil pH   Neutral to acidic (5.8 to 6.2)
 Bloom Time  Spring, summer, fall
 Flower Color Red, pink, orange, purple, white
 Hardiness Zones  10-12, USA
 Native Area  n/a

SunPatiens Care 

SunPatiens are low-maintenance plants that do well in virtually any spot where they get ample sun: containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets, as mass plantings in flower beds and borders, as an annual groundcover, or as an edging plant along garden paths or walkways. One thing to keep in mind when choosing where to plant them is that they do not grow well in soil that is compacted by frequent foot traffic. 

Because they have such a long-bloom period from spring to fall, there is no need to replant anything else for late-season bloom. Pruning or deadheading of SunPatiens is not required. 

While SunPatiens are botanically a perennial, they are grown as an annual in most locations. 

SunPatiens bush with bright red flowers and dark green leaves in middle of soil

The Spruce / K. Dave

SunPatiens flower with bright red flower next to pink bud and dark green leaves with pink stripe closeup

The Spruce / K. Dave

SunPatiens bush from above with bright red and orange flowers surrounded by clustered leaves

The Spruce / K. Dave

Light

Unlike common impatiens and New Guinea impatiens, SunPatiens are not bothered by the sun. On the contrary, they do best in full sun where they produce more flowers. Partial shade with about four hours of direct sunlight does not affect their bloom, however, they do no grow well and don’t bloom in full shade. 

Soil

To provide optimum growing conditions in soil that is rich in organic matter and well-aerated. Raised beds work especially well. 

Water

During the first two weeks after planting, water SunPatiens every day, as much as needed to keep the soil moist. After their vigorous root systems have been established, water them whenever the soil surface feels dry. How often you need to water very much depends on the weather. On hot, windy days the soil dries out much faster than on overcast days. Container plants, especially hanging baskets, always need more frequent watering than garden plants, sometimes they need to be watered twice a day. 

For SunPatiens in garden soil, drip watering is the most efficient so the water directly gets to the base of the plants instead of only getting their foliage wet with overhead watering. 

Mulch around the plants to keep the soil cool and moist and suppress weeds. 

Temperature and Humidity

SunPatiens do well in hot, humid weather. While you can plant them in the spring when the soil is still cool, around 55 F, the plants are very frost-tender and won’t tolerate frost. 

Fertilizer

Fertilizer SunPatiens moderately, they do not need much fertilizer. Overfertilizing them can reduce their bloom and burn the leaf tips. 

It is recommended to mix add a slow-release fertilizer into the topmost layer of the soil before planting, using half of the strength indicated on the product label. 

SunPatiens are available in a wide range of colors

magicflute002 / Getty Images

Types of Sunpatiens 

There are two series of SunPatiens: 

  • Compact SunPatiens have dense, bushy plants reaching a hight of 16-32 in. and a spread of 14-24 in. They are the best choice for container planting. 
  • Vigorous SunPatiens are fast-growing and best when you want to cover a lot of empty space as fast as possible with a massive color display. Their height ranges from 24-48 in. and they spread 24-30 in. They are better suited than the other series for heavier garden soil and have a better resistance to nematodes

Propagating SunPatiens 

SunPatiens is a registered trademark, which means that propagation is protected. Live plant parts as well as rooted and unrooted cuttings may not be used for propagation. The trademark is also the reason why you won’t find SunPatiens seeds for sale.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases 

The plants are bred for downy mildew resistance and they generally don’t have serious disease problems but they can potentially get impatiens necrotic spot virus, fungal blights, powdery mildew, and rots, such as stem rot. The latter can be prevented by leaving a few inches of soil free when you mulch around the plants.

Poorly drained, heavy, and compacted soils can lead to Rhizoctonia fungi and Phytopthora oomycetes.

Insects that can potentially harm the plant include aphids, mealybugs, thrips, spider mites, and whiteflies. They might also be eaten by slugs, and snails.

FAQ
  • Can you buy SunPatiens seeds?

    No, because the plants are trademarked. This also means the plants may not be propagated.

  • Why are my SunPatiens wilting?

    Most likely they need water. The good news is that they will recover once you water them deeply and you won’t lose any flowers or buds.

  • Will SunPatiens survive winter?

    It depends where you are located. They won’t survive a strong frost, which is why they can only overwinter in zones 10-12.

  • How far apart should SunPatiens be planted?

    If you plant them 2 feet apart, the plants will be shorter. Plant them 1 foot apart, and the plants will be taller.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sakata Seed America. SunPatiens® Culture Guide.