Jewelweed Growing: How To Plant Jewelweed In The Garden
By: Jackie Carroll
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), also called spotted touch-me-not, is a plant that flourishes in conditions that few others will tolerate, including deep shade and soggy soil. Although it is an annual, once established in an area, it comes back year after year because the plants self-sow vigorously. Having foliage that glistens and sparkles when wet gives this Native American wildflower the name jewelweed. Keep reading to learn more about growing wild jewelweed impatiens.
What is Jewelweed?
Jewelweed is a wildflower in the Impatiens family that is commonly grown as a bedding annual. In the wild, you can find dense colonies of jewelweed growing in drainage areas, on stream banks, and in bogs. Wild jewelweed impatiens plants assist wildlife like butterflies, bees, and several types of birds including many songbirds and hummingbirds.
Jewelweed plants grow 3 to 5 feet (1-1.5 m.) tall and bloom from late spring to early fall. The orange or yellow flowers dotted with reddish brown spots are followed by explosive seed capsules. The capsules burst open at the slightest touch to fling seeds in every direction. This method of distributing seeds gives rise to the common name touch-me-not.
How to Plant Jewelweed
Choose a location in full or partial shade with rich, organic soil that stays wet or most. Jewelweed tolerates more sun in locations where summers are cool. If the soil lacks organic matter, dig in a thick layer of compost or rotted manure before planting.
Jewelweed seeds germinate best when stored in the refrigerator for at least two months before planting outdoors. Scatter the seeds over the surface of the soil when all danger of frost has passed. They need light to germinate, so don’t bury the seeds or cover them with soil. When the seedlings emerge, thin them to 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm.) apart by clipping out excess seedlings with a pair of scissors.
Jewelweed Plant Care
Jewelweed plant care is easy. In fact, it requires little care in areas where the soil stays wet. Otherwise, water often enough to keep the soil moist and apply a thick mulch.
The plants don’t need fertilizer in rich soil, but you can add a shovelful of compost in summer if they aren’t growing well.
Once established, the dense growth of plants discourages weeds. Until then, pull the weeds as necessary.
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Read more about Impatiens
Germination of Impatiens Capensis
Water droplets glisten like jewels on leaves of Impatiens capensis, the aptly named jewelweed plant. A native annual to the United States, jewelweed grows from 3 to 5 feet tall and bears yellow to orange flowers with red speckles. Pre-flowering stems are harvested, crushed and boiled to render jewelweed juice, which reduces inflammation and itchiness from poison ivy toxins. Jewelweed seed germination begins with a bang as plants’ seed capsules explode to ensure successive generations.
- Jewelweed is native to almost all of North America and Canada, with the exception of AZ/NM/UT/NV/WY/MT. So, it is extremely common.
- As an annual, the plant will die each winter. New plants will grow from seeds that germinate in cool soil in the Spring
- Did you know that Orange Jewelweed has cousin? Click here to read about the closely related Yellow Jewelweed, Impatiens Pallida.
- The long trumpet shaped flowers will attract hummingbirds, bumblebees, and some butterflies
- Seed capsules from Jewelweed burst when touched/disturbed, flinging the seed all around.
- Many birds eat the seeds of Jewelweed. But the seeds/fruits are toxic to humans
- Other common names include Touch-Me-Not, spotted Touch-Me-Not, Orange Balsam, Orange Jewelweed, and Spotted Jewelweed
- The juice inside the stem can be used to treat skin irritation from stinging nettles and poison ivy Just crush the stem and apply the sap/juice to the skin.
- Although research has shown no benefits for poison ivy rash. But, it won’t hurt to try to use it…
- Jewelweed can out-compete Garlic Mustard in moist/shady conditions, suppressing this horrible invasive plant!
- Thick colonies of Jewelweed can form, and suppress undesirable invasive plants/weeds
Now that is a thick colony of Jewelweed….
I learned that the main ingredient in the homemade remedy grows wild throughout the area. An Internet search revealed it to be the same pretty wildflower growing in my ditch, just yards from the poison ivy that got on me.
It turns out that the remedy for skin rashes, including poison ivy tends to grow wherever poison ivy grows, and in much the same manner.
The Touch Me Not Plant
This plant of course is Jewel Weed, Impatiens capensis. It has a confusing nickname of the “touch me not” plant. So… it’s a remedy for poison ivy, but shouldn’t be touched…? What?!
Some have said that the touch-me-not title should belong to the plants for which jewelweed is a remedy. I.e., we shouldn’t be touching poison ivy or stinging nettle, right? However, Jewelweed is called the “touch me not plant” because its seeds explode when touched.
Jewel weed is another example of one of Mother Nature’s amazingly adaptive plants that has evolved to guarantee its survival. Its spring loaded seeds help it spread easily from the weather and passing animals.
Loved by pollinators such as bees and hummingbird, jewel weed grows from three to five feet tall and blooms from late spring to early fall.
Jewelweed is called the “touch me not plant” because its seeds explode when touched, thereby guaranteeing its survival.
Other Common Names: Spotted touch-me-not
Weed class: C
Year Listed: 2018
Native to: Native east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada
Is this Weed Toxic?:
The genus of Impatiens contains napthoquinone, which may cause mild to moderate irritation of the digestive track.
Why Is It a Noxious Weed?
This is a new noxious weed for 2018. Spotted jewelweed has spread rapidly since it was first documented in Washington. Plants are widespread in certain lowland areas and appear to still be increasing. Seedlings of spotted jewelweed can form dense carpets that can compete with native species and are difficult to control. Spotted jewelweed is able to hybridize with the Washington native, spurless jewelweed, Impatiens ecornuta.
How would I identify it?
Spotted jewelweed is an annual that grows around 2 to 5 feet tall and blooms in late summer with two kinds of flowers--reduced, self-fertilizing flowers and showy, open flowers. Flowers are orange and have recurved spurs, are typically spotted, and form capsules after pollination. Capsules have the ability to explosively open and propel seeds a short distance.
Flowers are around 1 inch long with spots (though there is a rare spotless form) having an abrupt and convex taper to recurved spur, spots primarily ventral, coarse and dense. Flowers are typically orange and have red to orange colored spots. Rarely flower color may vary and the petals can be white, cream or pale yellow with bright pink spots.
Leaves are alternately arranged and have petioles 0.8 to 1.6 inches (2-4 cm) long. Leaf blades are elliptic to ovate (egg-shaped) and 1.2 to 4.7 inches (3-12 cm) long. Leaf margins have rounded, serrated teeth (look somewhat scalloped), with a sharp point.
Stems are upright, often branched, glabrous (hairless), and can be tinged red. Height range estimates vary from up to 4.9 feet (1.5 meters), to 7.9 to 31.5 inches (20-80 cm) tall.
Fruit Seed Description
Flowers produce a cylindrical to club-shaped capsule, about 1 inch long,which expels seeds when touched. Seeds can be expelled up to 4 to 6 feet. Seeds are black when mature.
May Be Confused With
There is an excellent key in the article: Botanical Electronic News with Impatiens article by Peter Zika (scroll down) along with a link to pictures that support the article. A table based on this article and other information can be found in our written findings, beginning on page 6.
Where does it grow?
Spotted jewelweed grows primarily in western Washington on moist soils at low elevations and is found in forests, lake and pond edges, riverbanks, sloughs, disturbed wetlands and sunny roadside ditches or canals. View a county level distribution map of spotted jewelweed.
How Does it Reproduce?
How Do I Control It?
There is limited information available on control methods for spotted jewelweed. Control methods used for policeman’s helmet, Impatiens glandulifera, a Class B noxious weed in Washington, can be adapted for use on spotted jewelweed. Plants may have some seeds that remain in the seedbank after the first year so it is important to manage and monitor sites and provide additional control when necessary. Removing invasive species can open up a habitat to re-invasion if follow up management does not occur. By planting a variety of desirable species, a community will be present to help provide competition and shade weed seedlings and to also provide a food source for pollinators. When possible, carry out control methods when pollinators are not active on plants. Also, make sure to clean shoes, clothing, and equipment when leaving infested areas to prevent spreading seed to new locations.
Spotted jewelweed has a shallow root system and can easily be hand-pulled when growing in damp soils. Make sure to remove the roots, especially in drier soils where plants may break off. If the plants do not have seed capsules, they can be crushed and left on site in a dry place to compost (King County Noxious Weed Control Program 2016--see link below). If plants have seed capsules, make sure to bag and put them in the trash (King County Noxious Weed Control Program 2016). It is important to properly identify spotted jewelweed plants before removal to avoid accidentally removing native Impatiens species. Plants will need to be identified while in bloom and care needs to be taken as native Impatiens may grow among spotted jewelweed plants.
Peter Zika’s 2009 article in the Botanical Electronic News “Jewelweeds and touch-me-nots (Impatiens, Balsaminaceae) in the Pacific Northwest of North America” provides a key along with a set of color images that can be used to identify Impatiens species http://www.ou.edu/cas/botanymicro/ben/ben408.html.
Provide competition to spotted jewelweed by planting, seeding and promoting native plants in areas after control has taken place.
There is currently no biological control agent used to control spotted jewelweed.
Large populations of spotted jewelweed may need chemical control for management. Make sure to
survey populations before herbicide use to avoid treating native Impatiens species. Spotted jewelweed is not currently included in The Pacific Northwest Weed Management Handbook, but check back as this resource is continually updated: https://pnwhandbooks.org/ . For questions about specific herbicide use, please contact your county noxious weed control board.
Please note: Use of pesticides in water is regulated in Washington. All applicators must have an aquatic
endorsement on their pesticide applicators’ license, which is issued by the Washington State Department of Agriculture. In addition, coverage under a permit issued by the Department of Ecology is
required. See http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs for details.
In general, use herbicide control in combination with other control methods to reduce usage when
possible. When using a foliar spray, treat plants when pollinators are not present or are the least active
Best Types of Impatiens
Botanical Name: Impatiens walleriana
Size: 8-24 inches
Native to Africa, this variety is also known as Touch-me-not, Sultana, and Busy Lizzie. It is the most commonly grown impatiens in North America and performs well in shady or semi-shaded areas. Many sun tolerant and compact cultivars have been developed since the 1960s. The series includes:
1. Accent Series: It produces dwarf, multi-colored, and mounded flowers in spring and summer. This variety prefers partial shade.
2. Blitz Series: Features heat and drought tolerant, large 2-3 inch wide flowers.
3. Carousel Series: Has compact, well-branched plants that offer double flowers.
4. Dazzler Series: Like the name, they come in bright shades of red, pink, white, and orange. It is perfect for containers
5. DeZire Series: Offers versatile plants that are fit for containers, hanging baskets, and garden use.
6. Expo Series: They offer more flowers per plant season and come with a broad range of colors to choose from.
7. Fiesta Series: Forms double flowers and can thrive in both shade or partial shade.
8. Super Elfin Series: It is popular for compact growing habit and plentiful flowers.
9. Super Elfin XP Series: Has dense and uniform growth. Thrives in shady locations.
Botanical Name: Impatiens hawkeri
Size: 10-22 inches
This improved impatiens variety offers large beautiful flowers with multi-colored leaves. It has the ability to tolerate strong sunlight. The best varieties are:
10. Celebrette Series: It forms shell pink flowers with a violet blotch. Thrives in full to partial shade.
11. Clockwork Series: Displays uniform habit and large flowers in almost every color.
12. Celebration Series: These are ideal for borders and containers and does well in both partial shade and full sun.
13. Devine Series: Has green to bronze foliage. Thrives in partial sun.
14. Harmony Series: Flowers early and consistently from spring until fall. It comes in four colors Salmon, magenta, orange, purple.
15. SunStanding Series: Has a compact growing habit and does well in the sun or shade.
Some Beautiful New Guinea Cultivars
16. Nebulus: Is an eye-catching, beautiful variety with salmon-colored flowers and bright green leaves.
17. Celebration Light Lavender: It has green variegated foliage and lavender flowers.
18. Celebration Candy Pink: Showcases light pink bi-colored flowers with vibrant dark green foliage.
19. Sunglow: Features salmon-orange dual-colored flowers with dark green variegated foliage.
20. Tango: Produces large orange flowers that beautifully complement the dark green foliage.
21. Sunglow: Has dual-color, salmon-orange flowers with bright green variegated foliage.
Botanical Name: Impatiens hawkeri ‘SunPatiens’
Size: 12-22 inches
Interspecific impatiens are a hybrid between new guinea impatiens and downy mildew resistant impatiens species. This variety prefers shade to full sun. The mildew-resistant variety includes:
22. Bounce Series: It is a fast-growing, low-maintenance variety with many color options that thrive in partial shade to full shade.
23. Big Bounce Series: Similar to bounce series with large ball-shaped flowers. Does well in partial sun.
24. SunPatiens Compact Series: Shows off dense, mounded plants that can grow in partial shade to full sun.
25. SunPatiens Spreading Series: Ideal for baskets. Thrives in partial shade to full sunlight.
26. SunPatiens Vigorous Series: It is mostly used in mass planting and landscape. The strong stems can withstand rain and wind.
Botanical Name: Impatiens balsamina
Size: 8-16 inches
Also known as rose balsam or garden balsam, these are endemic to India and Southeast Asia. Balsamina impatiens are smaller than Impatiens walleriana. Many varieties form a cup-shaped flower.
27. Balsam Tom Thumb Dwarf: Has a uniform and compact growth. It produces colorful flowers.
28. Carambole Series: Produces flowers in four shades – creamy pink, lilac, scarlet, and white.
Botanical Name: Impatiens capensis
Size: 12-48 inches
Jewelweed is native to the woodlands of the Northern and eastern United States. The flowers are available in yellow or orange shades. This variety grows well under shaded location in moist soil.
29. Spotted Jewelweed: It exhibits orange flowers with curved spurs and red-brown spots the elliptical-ovate leaves are dark green.
30. Pale Jewelweed: It offers droopy, pale yellow flowers with recurved spurs. The plant thrives in moist to wet soil.
Impatiens capensis Spotted Touch-me-not
Another common name in use is simply Jewelweed, Orange Jewelweed or Orange Touch-me-not.
*This species may be difficult and/or slow to germinate and grow to maturity. Please note the germination code. Seed of this species is kept under refrigeration (33-38 F) in our warehouse. A few days in transit to you in colder or warmer conditions won’t harm the seed, but it should be put back in refrigeration until you are ready to plant or apply pre-sowing treatment.
This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.
Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.
Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.
Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.
To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds
DORMANT BARE ROOT PLANTS:
We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.
Trays of 38 plants and 3-packs leave our Midwest greenhouse based on species readiness (well-rooted for transit) and based on order date Spring shipping is typically early-May through June, and Fall shipping is late-August through September. Plant cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting instructions/care are included with each order.
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BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $7.50
over $50.00: 15% of the total plant cost
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SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within a day or two upon receipt.
BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.
POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 38 and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.
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