Impatiens balsamina is an ornamental annual featuring brightly colored flowers of pink, purple, white, salmon, cream, or red. This plant is sometimes known as the touch-me-not because its ripened seed pods react to a light touch by bursting explosively as a means of distributing seeds away from the parent plant. Other nicknames in English for this plant include rose balsam or camellia-flowered balsam, due to the visual similarity of its flowers to roses or camellias; garden balsam; lady slipper; balsamine; spotted snapweed; and jumping Betty. Impatiens balsamina can be grown in full sun or partial shade in a variety of soil types. It is considered simple to cultivate and can be grown indoors, in a container, or in the ground as a colorful addition to a landscape.
This annual belongs to the Balsaminaceae family, which features as many as 1,000 different types of impatiens. Impatiens balsamina is native to the tropical areas of Asia, including India and China, but has been cultivated widely. It is now naturalized in many tropical and temperate areas of the world. In the U.S., impatiens balsamina is found primarily in a wide strip encompassing the Northeast and Southeast regions from Florida to New York, with specimens being found as far west as Missouri.
The colored blooms of impatiens balsamina typically attract insects such as bees, as well as some types of birds that feed on nectar. These plants have thick stems and grow to be up to 29.5 inches (75 cm) tall. They feature bright green leaves as long as 6 inches (15 cm) with pointed tips and serrated edges.
Impatiens balsamina thrives in many settings as long as it is provided sufficient water. If outdoors, this plant should be sheltered from heavy winds. It will continue blooming as long as temperatures remain warmer than 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius).
This annual does well when transplanted from greenhouse containers to the ground, if watered well. It is often recommended that this plant ideally be started from seed rather than propagated from cuttings. Germination from seed takes approximately 8-14 days.
Folkloric tradition holds that the flowers, seeds, or leaves of impatiens balsamina can be used to help heal specific physical ailments. It is often said to be a remedy for snakebite. Some individuals have used this plant as a folk remedy for warts, burns, and some types of inflammation such as arthritis or skin problems. It is sometimes also used as a gastrointestinal aid.