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Products > Impatiens sodenii 'Robert the Red'
Impatiens sodenii 'Robert the Red' - Red Stemmed Shrub Balsam
Image of Impatiens sodenii 'Robert the Red'
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Perennial
Family: Balsaminaceae (Touch-me-nots)
Origin: Africa, East (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Pink
Bloomtime: Year-round
Synonyms: [I. oliveri]
Height: 4-8 feet
Width: 8-10 feet
Exposure: Light Shade/Part Sun
Seaside: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 30-32 F
Impatiens sodenii 'Robert the Red' (Dark Stemmed Shrub Balsam) - A frost tender shrub (often treated as a perennial) that can grow as large as 5 feet tall by 6 feet wide. It has a woody base and semi-succulent dark red stems bearing 8-inch-long dark green leaves in whorls. At the tips of the stems are the showy 3 inch wide rich pink flowers with slender spurs. The flowers bloom throughout the year at first emerging a darker pink and fading to pale pink - we also grow the species, Impatiens sodenii which has green stems and paler pink flowers.

This large Impatiens does best in a well-drained soil in light shade or morning sun, but at the coast it will grow in full sun. It grows rapidly when watered regularly in warmer gardens to occasionally along the coast, where with a little protection it is tolerant of seaside conditions. Although it is hardy to only about 30 degrees F, limiting it to the nearly frost-free areas (USDA 10-11), plants damaged by a frost will often resprout at the base and seed can perpetuate the plant as an annual in even colder climates. Prune annually after frost danger is past to shape and remove cold-damaged stems then only tip prune the rest of the year; avoid cutting back hard as this discourages flowering.

The species Impatiens sodenii is native to the tropical East African highlands between 3,000 and 8,000 ft. elevation in Kenya and Tanzania. The name for the genus is from the Latin word 'impatientem' which means "unable to wait patiently" or "desiring immediate action" in reference to the sudden dehiscence of the of the fruit capsules. The common name "touch-me-not" sometimes used for plants in the genus is in reference what is sometimes called an explosive dehiscence of seed. The specific epithet honors Julius, Freiherr von Soden (1846-1921), who was governor of several German colonies in Africa and founder of the Central Botanical Office for the German Colonies. This plant has long been known by the name Impatiens oliveri, a name honoring the British botanist Daniel Oliver (1830-1916) and it is also commonly called Poor Man's Rhododendron and Oliver's Touch-Me-Not.

We purchased this cultivar from Annies Annuals nursery who notes that this plant came to them from Derick Pitman and we grow the light pink flowering species plant Impatiens sodenii and the white flowering cultivar Impatiens sodenii 'Madonna'

This information about Impatiens sodenii 'Robert the Red' displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.