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Balsam Plant

Balsam Plant- How to grow, care and types of Balsam plant

Have you heard about a forgotten annual flowering plant? That’s the Balsam, also called the Touch me not plant. In the past, it was a beloved cottage garden plant.

This plant’s flower can immediately catch your attention. Moreover, they were famous flowers in Victorian gardens for their beauty. 

Also, If you are from India, this plant will grow faster than you imagine. It is well known that they can reach 1550 meters above sea level in India’s climate. That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? On top of that, you can see a large variety in the Deccan plateau, Western Ghats, and Konkan. 

Continue reading if you want to learn how you can enjoy the spring blooms with a variety of balsam colors! After reading the article, you will be smitten with this beauty.

With that said, let’s get started!

About Balsam Plant

Botanical nameImpatiens balsamina
Common nameBalsam, garden balsam, rose balsam, Chinese balsam plant
FamilyBalsaminaceae
Plant Type Annual 
Native AreaAsia
Mature size6–30 inches tall and 6–12 inches wide
SunlightPartial sun and shade
SoilOrdinary
Flowering timeMay to October
Soil typeLoamy, moist, well-drained
Soil pHAcidic, neutral
FertilizerAny Organic fertilizer

What is the balsam Plant?

Balsam is a plant that grows on thick, upright stems with light green, serrated leaves. They are also known as Impatiens balsammina. Each flower of the plant measures around 1-3 inches in diameter.

To enjoy their bloom, early spring is the ideal time. Moreover, they last until frost in the fall. Additionally, you get a variety of colors in the Balsam plant, from solids to bi-colors.

In the spring, after the risk of frost has passed, you can grow the balsam plant. Also, they are the fastest-growing plant.

India and Southeast Asia are native to the balsam plant (Impatiens balsamina). During Victorian times, it was brought to England by intrepid plant hunters. Additionally, they are perfect for bedding plants as they have vibrant flowers and a neat, upright habit.

They are also called Touch-Me-Not because of the way they spread their seeds. When touched, ripe seed pods explode, spreading seeds throughout your garden. Also, it is easy to germinate the seeds, making them capable of taking over your garden.

The plants can grow from 12″ to 18″. They bloom double, like those of impatiens and camellias. Also, there are many different types of flowers, including pink, white, rose, purple, and red. Moreover, they will continue to bloom until the frost kills the plants. Balsam seeds grow true, meaning their descendants will look like their parents.

Types of Balsam plants

There are several balsam types, including,

1. Blackberry Trifle

Blackberry Trifle

2. Bush Mix

Bush Mix

Bush Mix cultivars remain compact and full throughout the growing season. Unlike some balsams, which get leggy.

3. Tom Thumb Mix

With an average height of 8 to 10 inches, this variety is ideal for edging borders or planting in containers.

4. Camellia balsam

This variety has been cultivated in American gardens for more than a century. As an annual, it grows 18 to 30 inches tall. Mostly axillary, balsam flowers come in rose, salmon, white, scarlet, and violet varieties. 

This balsam grows best in full to partial sun conditions with moderate to moist soils that drain well. Moreover, they are suitable for beds, borders, and containers. Additionally, it attracts bumble bees.

5. Balsam Peppermint Stick:

The Balsam Peppermint Stick, also popular as ‘Camellia Peppermint Stick’”, is a stunning all-year flowering plant that’s known for its unique red and white spotted flowers, which look similar to the popular holiday candy. 

The plant typically increases to be 22-24 inches tall, with a width of 16-18 inches, mainly relying on the growing circumstances. It likes consistently moist soil and should not be permitted to dry out between each watering session. 

While it can handle both direct and indirect sunlight, it’s a delicate annual flowering plant that does not do well in freezing temperatures.

This plant is not just a decorative plant, every piece of this plant is edible. The leaves are often utilized in curries and the flowers make lovely additions to salads.

How to Grow Balsam plant?

It’s unlikely you will find balsam transplants at a nursery, but you can grow it from seeds. When sown in moist soil at 70℉, the seeds will sprout in just four days. 

Plan on about 60 days from seeding to first bloom, starting them inside about 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Also, seeds germinate faster when exposed to light, so don’t completely cover them. Gently, place them in the seed starting mix without pressing them down. Water regularly but don’t let the soil become soggy.  

Steps to grow the Balsam plant from the seeds

  • Get the seeds from your local nursery.
  • Wet the seeds in water for at least 12 hours before planting. This will enhance their germination.
  • Put seeds in a seedling tray or a small pot filled with seed starting mix. Just make sure they have not been buried too deep. Mist them lightly and place them where they will receive indirect light.
  • After 7-10 days they will germinate.
  • After the seedlings have two to four sets of leaves, you can transplant them into a pot or garden bed of your choice.
  • It will take 60 to 70 days for the seedlings to bear flowers

If available, you can buy a healthy plant from a nursery. It will save you a lot of time!

How to grow a balsam plant in a pot?

In a pot, balsam can be grown as long as they have adequate amounts of sunlight and fertilizer. Also, it is important to water them when they are in a pot. Because pots dry out much more quickly than gardens. Hence, ensure that you water potted plants on a daily basis.

While planting balsam, use potting soil that contains slow-release fertilizer. Also, you can sprinkle some slow-release fertilizer on the soil after planting.

Remember, potted plants need plenty of fertilizer as water leaches nutrients from the soil. If you do not replace those nutrients, your plants will not grow and thrive.

Balsam flower season in India

For summer flowering, seeds are sown in January-February. Also, it is important to sow seeds thinly in nursery beds, seed pans, or seedling trays. Use fine sandy soil for seedbeds (Outdoors) and coco peat as a sowing medium (Indoors).

Balsam plant care

Balsam plants do not need much maintenance to bloom throughout the season and are quite easy to grow. Neither pests nor diseases pose a major problem for them. Besides, they tend to bounce back from wilting caused by hot temperatures and the sun. While planting, an extra layer of mulch will keep the roots cool and keep the soil moisture.

Whenever your plants reach 4 inches tall, pinch back the stems. This will create fuller and stronger growth. Also, these flowers tend to self-seed in ideal growing conditions. Hence, remove seedlings that spread to areas where you don’t want them. Furthermore, regular watering and feeding will make your balsam bloom all season.

Balsam Plant Sunlight Requirements

Balsam does well with 3-4 hours of direct sunlight. However, it can also thrive in partial shade. An east or south-facing location will be best for the plant’s growth. If you are growing it indoors, place it on a south-facing windowsill.

Balsam Plant Watering

Balsam grows well in moist but not damp soil. For potted plants, only water when the topsoil feels a bit dry. Also, you will have to water the plant more during Indian summers, especially if you have left them outside.

Best Soil for Balsam Plant

Well-draining, fertile, and porous soil is ideal for this plant. You can also use a good quality potting mix for this plant. In the garden, make sure the soil is not too heavy or compact. Also, you can add compost or aged manure to improve soil quality.

Temperature and Humidity Requirements

Frost is one of the few threats to balsam flowers. As they cannot tolerate cold temperatures (32℉ or below). Although they can wilt in summer heat waves, they thrive in warm temperatures. In addition to their water requirements, balsam plants also like some humidity. As long as they are receiving the moisture they need from the soil, they can tolerate drier air.

How to Fertilize Balsam Plant

During the growing season, use a balanced fertilizer every 3-4 weeks. Do not forget to read the instructions on the package. You can also use organic feeds during the growing season like fermented compost tea and fish emulsion.

Balsam Plant Pruning

In general, balsam does not require much pruning. Just periodically remove branches with broken tips, crisscrosses, or disease.

Pests and Diseases

There is a chance for powdery mildew and fungal infections to develop. Therefore, be careful not to spill water on the foliage when watering. To prevent potential problems, avoid overwatering the plant and place it in an area with sufficient air circulation.

Potting and Repotting 

You can grow balsam flowers in a pot on balconies and terraces. Just make sure the pot has plenty of holes for drainage. Keep at least a foot between each pot. You won’t need to repot these annuals if you choose a large enough container.

Medicinal Properties of Balsam Plant

  • Balsam’s flowers are naturally cold and it has the properties to reduce acidity.
  •  A paste of the balsam flowers can be applied to burns for relief.
  •  In addition to being diuretic and digestive, it is also useful in treating arthritis. 
  • There is also 21% edible oil available from balsam seeds. 
  • During pregnancy, powdered balsam seeds are used for ease of delivery in China. 
  • The seeds are also used to treat back pain in the Philippines. 
  • Several publications suggest that paste of balsam leaves can be used to treat insect bites and snake bites. 
  • The paste is also believed to have expectorant properties and can be used as a cancer treatment. 
  • balsam Flowers can also be used to treat infections caused by bacteria and fungus.

Other uses

Consuming balsam leaves is a popular tradition in Bali. A crushed balsam flower and its leaves give color to the nails. This is similar to the Henna effect.

Balsam companion plants:

Companion planting is best described as the method of growing various plant species nearby so that they can offer similar benefits to one another. Sometimes these benefits are one-sided, but In most cases, the usefulness is mutual, with each plant improving the other’s health or energy. Here are some of the balsam’s companion plants;

Impatiens:

Impatiens plants are one of the most favored bedding plants because of their maintenance and bright color, copious flowers, and their capacity to thrive in dark spots. Even though they are known as perennial plants in their tropical zones, impatiens are more often cultivated as annuals, where they produce flowers in the growing season (spring to fall). The plants produce flowers in about every single color you can imagine besides true blue. Impatiens are well-fitted to grow in pots or in the ground. If you have a sunny area in your house, you may be able to develop impatiens all year as an indoor plant.

Coleus:

Coleus is used as a popular Victorian-era bedding plant or as a companion plant and is still widely popular to this day due to the vibrancy its foliage offers, whether it’s grown in full sun or shade. Coleus plants have square stalks and the leaves of the plant are organized directly opposite one another. They create tiny blue-to-white flowers that are often tweaked off to preserve energy. The foliage ranges widely in shape, type, and pigment, and new colors and designs will surprise you regularly. Planted outdoors in earlier spring, coleus fast spreads and grows to its full extent in a single season. Since coleus is usually cultivated as an annual, these plants can exclusively last a year outdoors, but indoors the plant can survive several seasons.

FAQs

How do you care for Chinese balsam?

For balsam in a pot and hanging baskets, it is necessary to water regularly. At the end of the season, collect the seed pods carefully. Until spring, let the pod dry and keep it in an airtight container in a cool, dark area of the house. After transplantation, you need a little water every day for seven to ten days.

Does Chinese balsam plant need sunlight?

A balsam tree does best in partial shade with moist, well-drained soil.

What is the balsam plant used for?

The plant’s different parts are used as traditional remedies to treat disease and skin afflictions. Warts and snakebite are treated with juice from the leaves. Whereas, burns are treated with the flower. Traditionally, this species has been used for treating rheumatism, fractures, and other ailments in Asia.

Is the balsam plant poisonous?

Despite its low severity poisoning characteristics, this plant is still toxic.

Do balsam plants produce flowers?

Yes, Garden balsam has elliptical to lance-shaped leaves with serrated margins, and showy flowers that are pink, red, or purple.

How can I make my balsam bloom?

Make sure the soil of balsam plants is consistently moist throughout the growing season. Even during heat waves, they can bloom, but only if they have enough water to drink. On the other hand, they do not tolerate drought well, and will usually stop flowering if they don’t receive enough water

How many types of balsam are there?

About 1,000 species of these angiosperms or closed-seeded plants are known to exist worldwide. The Indian balsam species list had 210 species until these new discoveries from Arunachal Pradesh emerged. Since then, the number of balsam species has increased to 230.

Why balsam is called touch-me-not?

Touch-me-not Balsam gets its name from its habit of exploding at the slightest provocation: five lobes curl up in a spiral from the bottom upwards. Touch-me-not balsam’s scientific name warns you, implying “I am sensitive, please do not touch me.”

Conclusion

You can enhance the look of your garden setup with Balsam plants. Make your home look beautiful by purchasing plants in a variety of colors. Additionally, only buy plants from nurseries that stock fresh plants and gardening materials, such as soil, fertilizer, etc. For guidance on how to take care of balsam plants, you can consult our online sources and even speak to expert gardeners to understand the finer points of plant care.

Feel free to share growing tips on the balsam plant in the below comment section.

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