I’ll write about cold sensitive tropical plant – Impatiens niamniamensis, also known as parrot plant or parrot impatiens. It naturally grows in tropical Africa which means I can only grow it as container plant. It likes a bit shaded location in the summer and needs to stay inside during the winter. Parrot plant has nice – red, yellow and green colored flowers that resemble little birds. When successfully pollinated, it grows fruits – explosive capsules which can eject the seeds quite far away from the plant.
No natural pollination
Since they don’t seem to self pollinate easily, they need some help. The first year I was growing them, pollinators outside checked the flowers, but there was no successful pollination. I started checking the flowers about possible reasons. Like many plants, they try to avoid self pollination, even if they are self fertile. Some plants avoid self pollination by placing stamens far away from the pistils, others delay maturation so that pollen develops too early or too late to pollinate the flower. Parrot plant seems to have taken the second strategy.
When flowers fully develop, anthers appear before female part of the flower. Stigma seems to be hidden under the stamen. After a while, stamens fall off and expose the pistil. At that time, stigma becomes responsive to the pollen and pollination becomes possible. After pollination, the fruit capsule starts forming. When it fully develops, it explodes and disperse the seeds quite far away from the plant which is seed dispersion strategy of whole Impatiens genus.
To transfer pollen from stamen to a pistil, I just plucked a flower with nicely developed stamens full of pollen grains. I search for flowers in their second phase and apply that pollen to all exposed stigmas I can find by simply brushing them with stamen. Some of the pollen sticks to the receptive stigma which makes the pollination process complete. After a few weeks, fruits should ripen enough to collect the brown colored seeds – before the capsules explode.
Seeds and seedlings
Small brown seeds germinate easily as soon as they touch the moist soil. Like all plants, you can expect better germination if you sow the seeds immediately. With time they loose viability, but there should be no problem storing them until the next season to start the seedlings as an annual plant. For me, it took 3 to 6 months for the seedlings to start flowering so start them inside before late winter. Better and faster propagation option than starting seedlings is making cuttings. You can make cuttings during fall and winter and plant them next spring.