New Guinean Balsam
With the increase in the number of western plants represented in our market, in particular, varieties of Dutch selection, the idea of the usual balsamics we have changed dramatically. So, the status of an exotic novelty was replaced by the title of favorite New Guinean balsam hybrids, bred specifically for more spectacular flowering. There are many secrets and subtleties in the cultivation of such balsamins, on which lush flowering, the attractiveness of greenery, and the duration of the preservation of decorativeness depend. Guineans cannot be called difficult to care for, but they require a special approach.
New Guinean hybrids and a simple reason for their growing popularity
Among all varieties, groups of varieties and even species of balsamines (Impatiens), the so-called hybrid varieties of the Nuova Guinea group or the New Guinean hybrids (often labeled as New Guinea Impatiens) are now considered the best, although some time ago these plants were considered one of the most capricious and exclusively "Western".
The change of status and the growing popularity of the New-Guineans are not easy to explain: these plants boast a unique ability to bloom all year round. And although in regions with harsh winters they are grown only as seasonal plants in the garden, they cannot be found equal in room culture. The unique duration of flowering can be estimated even in the middle lane.
The two main features of the New Guinean hybrids are meatiness and power. They have strong shoots, very densely arranged bright dark green leaves and pretty, bright, asymmetrical flowers, as if uniformly scattered throughout the bush. The beauty of both greenery and flowering sets them apart from more than half a thousand species and many thousands of varieties of balsamines. And it seems inappropriate to attach popular nicknames to this plant - a light, Roly wet, untouched. Although the main feature of balsam is scattering of seeds, cracking of the capsule at the slightest touch, the New Guineans retain it.
New Guinean hybrids first appeared on the flower market in 1972, and the group of these hybrids can be called relatively young. It is believed that they were bred by crossing the Indonesian impatience of the Hawker with other species. These plants up to 20-30 cm high can be considered both indoor and garden varieties, but they show their full talents precisely in the premises. In fact, these are universal varieties that you can use as you wish. They have very compact, dense bushes and much more durable shoots that are more resistant to injuries than ordinary balsamines.
The leaves are dense, broadly lanceolate, sitting on short petioles in whorls, decorated with a finely serrated edge, they can reach 10 cm in length for individual varieties. “Recessed” veins are clearly visible on leaf blades. Yes, and the flowers are much fatter, larger, up to 5-8 cm in diameter, with elegant petals and a small colored eye. Flowers bloom in axillary "bunches" or one at a time. In horticultural culture, New Guinean balsamins bloom only in spring, but when grown in indoor culture, they grow all year.
New Guinean hybrids also appreciate the color scheme - pure pastel or watercolor shades of color and rare variations of pink shades, fuchsia, candy, salmon, peach, apricot tones. The color of the leaves is also very variable: in addition to the intense dark green, different varieties have brighter variations and original shades - bronze or with yellowish enlightenment in the center of the leaf blades.
A variety of New Guinean hybrids allows you to choose both more compact and large plants, very different from the more familiar Waller balsam. Actually, by size they are divided into three groups - compact (up to 20 cm), spreading-ampelous and high (up to 60-90 cm) varieties.
New Guinean hybrids most often distinguish not individual varieties, but whole varieties. The best of them are:
- "Macarena" with bronze leaves and orange flowers;
- ‘Jangle Rain’ - balsamins with pastel, soft colors and glossy dark leaves;
- ‘Harmony’ - a cultivar with densely branching compact bushes, bright red, bronze or green foliage and almost round, dense flowers;
- ‘Rainforest Exotic’ - balsams, whose bright "tropical" colors in plain and two-tone variations blend perfectly with dark leaves;
- "Java" - a series of plants with bright orange-pink-red "acrylic" tones and green or bronze leaves;
- “Mini Gini” is a small-flowered series, in plants of which dark bushes are strewn with hundreds of small flowers;
- "Divaro" - a series of compact densely branched balsamines with bright green leaves and neat middle flowers;
- ‘Spreading White’ - variegated New Guineans with snow-white flowers.
In the cultivation of New Guinean balsam hybrids, the most important thing is to choose the right conditions of detention and choose the plant itself with all the attention to “details”. On sale, New Guineans can be found mainly in the spring. But many flower centers deliver new "balsam" parties by autumn. When buying bushes should be carefully examined, noting the slightest signs of damage to diseases or pests: if you miss even a speck, then the plant will not be able to cure and most likely, you just have to throw it away.
Conditions for growing New Guinean Balsam
Like almost all balsams, hybrids from the group of New Guinean varieties are photophilous crops. It is better to place them on a windowsill or near the south window. The intensity of lighting directly determines the compactness of the bushes, their density and abundance of flowering. To achieve massive and relentless flowering, bushiness and attractiveness, with shading it is better not to overdo it.
The optimal duration of daylight hours is 14 hours or more, which in autumn and winter requires additional exposure. New Guinean balsamins react poorly to direct sunlight (especially midday), preferring diffuse lighting.
New Guinean balsamins are super thermophilic. The minimum allowable temperature for these hybrids is only 10 degrees Celsius. But then the maximum temperature for this plant is not limited even by the summer sun. The greatest decorativeness from plants in room culture can be achieved if a stable temperature range is provided from 18 to 25 degrees Celsius.
In the summer, New Guineans can be used in balcony arrangements, taken out into the open air and even planted in the soil. But at the same time, one must not forget about the thermophilicity of the plant, and on days when night temperatures drop to 10 degrees, it is better to bring the plants back into the room.
New Guinean hybrids are sensitive to wind, drafts, placement at heating devices. They do not like sharp fluctuations in air temperature.
Home New Guinea Balsam Care
For New Guineans, you need to maintain a stable, light substrate moisture, but do not overdo it with watering. Plants are watered with a small amount of water, but quite often, avoiding the dampness of the substrate or its drying out. In summer, watering is done very often, but with continued flowering in autumn and winter, balsamins are transferred to very rare waterings. The traditional frequency for winter is 1 time in 15-20 days. For watering plants, you can use only well-maintained, soft water and make sure that its temperature matches the temperature of the air in the room.
New Guinean balsamins do not tolerate both excess and low air humidity too well. Optimum performance is from 40 to 60%. In the heat or in the heating season, it is better to spray the leaves additionally or install humidifiers. If you do not take measures and leave the plant in very dry air, balsam can drop flowers, and even leaves.
It is very difficult to make a mistake in feeding the New Guinean balsamins. The main thing is not to go too far with nitrogen fertilizers, the excess of which can lead to leaf growth and almost complete stopping of flowering. They are not suitable for complex, but specially designed for flowering plants fertilizers with a high content of potassium. Top dressing is applied according to the usual scheme - once every 2 weeks during the entire flowering period, but it is better to halve the fertilizer dosage.
Plant pruning is poorly tolerated. If you want to make the bushes more compact and thick, you should use the simplest method - pinching the tops of the shoots.
In New Guinean balsam, it is advisable to immediately remove fading inflorescences.
New Guinean Balsam Transplant, Soil and Rejuvenation
The substrate for hybrid balsamins of the New Guinea group is selected from among loose, permeable and necessarily light soil mixtures. Optimum pH values are from 5.8 to 6.2. For balsamins, you can use universal substrates, in which it is better to add loosening components.
Indoor New Guinean balsamins do not have to be thrown away after flowering: it is a long-term culture that can tirelessly bloom for up to 3 years or more. They bloom relentlessly and retain their decorative effect for a long time, so if your plant is still attractive in spring, it can be transplanted into a new container (if the soil is not fully developed, the roots have a place to develop, then the transplant may not be carried out, but simply replace the top layer of the substrate). When grown in a garden or in balcony drawers, plants also do not have to be condemned to death: at the end of summer they can be transplanted into pots and transferred to indoor culture.
Pots for New Guinean balsamins increase slightly: it will be difficult to achieve abundant flowering in too spacious containers.
In order to achieve maximum decorativeness from the New Guinean balsamins, it is better to plant several plants in one pot (usually they sell up to 3-5 plants in one container). When planting, the root neck should remain at the same level with the soil or be located a little higher. When planting in the soil, balconies or flower boxes, balsamins welcome the mulching of the soil with compost or peat. The landing distance should be about 30-40 cm. It is advisable to lay a high drainage layer at the bottom of any containers.
New Guinean balsams are able to maintain abundant color and attractiveness up to 3 years, after which the plant will have to be replaced with new copies. True, such a rapid loss of decorativeness is characteristic only with continuous year-round flowering.
Problems Growing New Guinean Balsamines
In the tendency to spread root rot, the New Guineans are no different from other balsams. But the risk of damage arises only as a result of improper watering. But pests, especially thrips and a red spider mite, can appear on the plant in the case of proximity to infected plants, and in the open air in the heat. It is very difficult to deal with them, they quickly lead to damage to the appearance of leaves and flowers. It is believed that it is easier to throw out balsam than to fight insects.
Propagation Methods of New Guinean Balsamins
New Guinean balsamins can be propagated by seeds and vegetatively.
The simplest and easiest method is cuttings. For rooting, choose strong young tops of shoots with 2 to 3 pairs of leaves (more precisely, three internodes). The lower pair of leaves is removed, the stem is treated with growth accelerators if desired. Root balsam can be rooted in a light substrate or water. Usually the whole process takes 1-2 weeks.
For flowering, by the end of spring and early summer, sowing of seeds should be carried out very early, in January-February. Due to the need for additional illumination and careful control of air humidity, it is believed that New Guinean balsam is easier to buy "ready" than to grow from seeds yourself.