Advantages and disadvantages

Advantages and disadvantages of planting balsam flowers

Also called «touch-me-not», «rose balm», «garden balm» or «jumping betty», the balm flower ( Impatiens balsamina ) is beautiful and easy to grow – so easy, in fact, that this self-seeded plant can become a weed nuisance in some areas. There are many reasons to grow balsam flowers in the garden, and if you have room for this lively plant to spread, you won’t be disappointed – unless the following negatives of balsam plants change your mind. Remember that there are always two sides to consider.

Advantages of planting balsam flowers

They attract pollinators and keep coming back . As the balm flowers tighten as they proliferate, you will have masses of bright, long-lasting flowers to attract butterflies again and again. Balsam flowers also attract sphinxes (also called hawk moths or hummingbirds), which float and sip the nectar from the sweet flowers.
They can be used for herbal remedies . Herbalists use crushed balm flowers, often in the form of a poultice, to relieve a number of ailments, including burns and scalds, warts, torn nails, snake bites and various skin inflammations.
These are hard plants . Professionals of balm flowers include the ability of the plant to grow in shady areas and gardens of the rainforest. Once established, balsam flowers require very little care and bloom even during the worst summer heat waves. Simply amend the soil with a little manure or well-roasted compost before planting, then keep the soil slightly moist but never wet. Balsam flowers benefit from a light application of dry or water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks throughout the growing season – but even without fertilizer, these plants generally thrive.

The disadvantages of growing balm flowers

You can take control, quickly ! As far as balm plant negatives are concerned, there is only one, but it is important. These flowers are prolific self-seeders! Like its cousin the Himalayan balm, this plant reproduces by seeds, many of them every year. And it is from its seed that it gets its well-deserved nickname of «don’t touch me», because at the slightest touch, the seed pods open, shaking the seeds everywhere, even in areas you don’t want them to open.
I discovered this first hand after adding them to my garden to attract more pollinators. They did their job well and the bees and butterflies arrived. My vegetables were growing and producing in abundance without fail. The garden was also beautiful, with its many colourful flowers. But at the end of the season, when the flowers wilted and the hairy seed pods took their place, I took out the annuals and threw them into the compost heap near the edge of the forest. And to my surprise, I quickly found tons of seedlings that appeared in the garden mulch, in the compost, through the woods, and even in the front lawn areas. EVERYWHERE!
Although cutting and pulling by hand is recommended, and is the best control method I use frequently, years later, I continue to fight these threatening beauties. As with the horde of flies that seem to attend each other’s funerals, the more young plants are picked, the more they seem to take their place. This year, in fact, they have taken over the vegetable garden, giving shade to many of my once thriving plants.
They are susceptible to powdery mildew . In addition to their potential to become weeds in the landscape, balsam plants are also susceptible to powdery mildew, which can affect neighbouring plantings.

Final thoughts on planting balm flowers in gardens

There are many reasons to grow balm flowers in the garden, but it would be irresponsible not to warn others of their expanding nature. If you are looking for something less aggressive, then this plant is not for you. Of course, if you don’t mind seedlings appearing in other areas of the landscape, or if you have plenty of room for the plants to grow and replant each year, enjoy! That said, check with your local cooperative extension service beforehand, as the plants may be considered invasive in some areas. If the experts give you the green light, take some seeds and get to work.

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