What is a Garden Balsam?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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The garden balsam is one of many ornamental plants that originated in southern Asia, and it boasts colorful flowers that are usually pink, red, white, or purple. Its official name is Impatiens balsamina, and it is also sometimes called the rose balsam. It requires plenty of water and sunlight, and tends to spread easily, often hiding many of the flowers with its large amount of green foliage. The garden balsam tends to bloom from spring to winter, and is known for growing quickly.

This plant usually grows tall fast, so it is often placed behind flower beds or along walls. Its typical height is about three feet tall (0.91 m), and it often spreads out about that far in width, as well. The flowers are not typical in that they do not have very long stems, but they tend to look good when cut and floating in bowls of water, as some people do to decorate for an event or add some color to a home. They look like tiny roses, and they tend to appeal very much to bees and butterflies, both of which often pollinate them.


These annual plants do best in full sunlight, though they can also grow in partial sunlight. They need lots of water, and tend to thrive in rich, moist soil with occasional fertilizer being added. The best kind of soil for garden balsam is a mixture of peat moss, loam, sand, and some compost, as these ingredients make it quite rich and moist. On the other hand, almost any type of soil will sustain this plant decently, including clay, which is why even beginning gardeners often find garden balsam delightful and easy to maintain.

One trait that sets the garden balsam apart is that the entire plant is edible, and is often ingested by people in many parts of the world. For example, the stem and leaf can be cooked just like a vegetable, as can the seeds. Aside from tasting good, certain parts of the garden balsam can cure some afflictions. The flowers can soothe burns and can even be combined with other ingredients to make an antibiotic. The leaves are also believed to be able to cure both snakebite and warts when rubbed on the skin, which makes this plant not only attractive, but also useful and delicious to many around the world.


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Post 2

In addition to growing fast, the garden balsam will last. A healthy plant will continue to bloom until fall in most climates. You can expect to wait a little over a month after planting before you see the first blooms.

Post 1

The garden balsam is sometimes called a poor man's orchid, which I think is unfair. The garden balsam produces a beautiful flower, and some people like it even more than they like orchids. Whether you prefer orchids or balsams is a matter of preference.

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