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Impatiens balfourii seed collecting

The last of my Impatiens balfourii plants, commonly called Poor Man’s Orchid, are going to seed. This somewhat obscure Himalayan annual has seed pods that, when ripe, explode when touched. That makes for some pretty challenging and often comical seed collecting.

My friend Weeder gave me seeds a few years ago and because I. balfourii is a reliable reseeder, I haven’t had to replant. Her mom planted seed many, many years ago on the family ranch in Carmichael and Weeder has cultivated them– or they’ve cultivated themselves– since taking over the property after her folks were gone. Since she took over the property, not the seeds. Now that she’s in the process of selling the place to a developer, we’re both collecting seed to save and share around.

I’ve gotten pretty good at catching seeds in my left hand while gently pinching a pod with my right hand at the point where the pod connects to the stem. That seems to be the trigger point. Weeder reported that she caught a fair number of seeds recently… in her hair. The rest made it into a paper bag.

I’m playing around with making custom seed packets using coin envelopes (Office Max, Office Depot, etc.) and printing my own labels.

I wondered if it would be easy to find I. balfourii seeds online and it’s not! Select Seeds doesn’t have them. Annie’s Annuals sells the plant, but not at this time. Thompson & Morgan? Nope. Johnny’s? Nope. J.L. Hudson? Nope. Hortus Botanicus? YES! I shouldn’t be surprised. This super coolest of nurseries in Fort Bragg, CA has lots of amazing plants.

On Dave’s Garden, two DG members want it and one has it for trade. I’d be interested in knowing if other garden bloggers are growing it and where they obtained seed. Did you buy it? Was it passed along by a friend or family member?

I suppose Poor Man’s Orchid could become invasive under the right circumstances, but unless you have nothing but shade and moist soil, it should remain a well-contained and welcome rarity. The plants are easy to pull but are so pretty that you won’t want to.