Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Balfour's Touch Me Not, Balfour's Impatien, Poor Man's Orchid
Impatiens balfourii

Family: Balsaminaceae
Genus: Impatiens (im-PAY-shuns) (Info)
Species: balfourii (bal-FOR-ee-eye) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

18 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade


Bloom Color:
Pale Pink
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall

Unknown - Tell us

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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By Zanymuse
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By Zanymuse
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By Happenstance
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There are a total of 23 photos.
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11 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive francesseth On Apr 12, 2013, francesseth from Evanston, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

A neighbor gave me this plant originally. She called it 'wild orchid.' It fills in beautifully around other plants. It is easy to pull out if there are too many. It grows in full shade, part-shade and part-sun (with sufficient watering). It blooms from August to frost. I live in Evanston, Illinois.

Positive Domehomedee On Oct 25, 2012, Domehomedee from Arroyo Grande, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

A friend brought me one of these and every year after that I had more and more in my yard. I would simply pull out the ones that were in the way. Well I guess one year I pulled too many out, too soon and they were all gone. I am glad to say this coming spring I will be seeding these little gems back into my yard. I miss them.
They are simply a wonderful way to fill up the shade.

Positive Kim_M On May 14, 2010, Kim_M from Hamburg, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

Last Year was the first time I had ever seen this plant face to face in full Bloom. What a lovely plant. Blooms straight into the first frost. It is here to stay for me..Although it is one of those annuals that prefers cold/moist treatment to germinate. All of mine actually germinated a 38 degrees.

Positive Susan_C On Mar 3, 2009, Susan_C from Alameda, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I winter sowed Impatiens balfourii five or six years ago. It winter sowed beautifully, and when the time came, I planted out my six pack of plants. Those few little plants self-sowed, and ever since, I've had hundreds and hundreds of I. balfourii plants in my garden. (-I wouldn't call them invasive at all, though. They don't crowd out other plants and are easy to pull where you don't want them.) I think they are stunning and many people comment on them. My neighbor asked me if they were some type of orchid, which is funny, since poor man's orchid is one of their common names.

Positive clytia On Aug 4, 2008, clytia from Santa Cruz, CA wrote:

I picked this little plant up at a yard sale, where the woman had them coming up as an undergrowth. I love this little plant. It reseeds like crazy, and it's fun to collect the seeds with kids, due to the way the pods corkscrew. In Santa Cruz Ca, they do best in a bright shade. They will reluctantly tolerate SOME sun, but not too hot. And it's unusual enough that people ask what it is.

Positive Malus2006 On May 29, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

zone 4a hardy - same things as above - will reseed itself in the oddest place. True annual, seeds survive winter and then germinates. Sometimes I mistook their seedlings for certain weeds like member of the pokeweed family.

Positive henryr10 On Aug 4, 2004, henryr10 from Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

Our first few years of gardening down here we almost eradicated these little beauties as weeds.
It seems they don't grow in our former area 60 miles north.

Luckily a few made it thru to flower and the weeding stopped immediately.

They are very easy to grow and reseed quite prolifically.
But as our weeding testifies very easy to keep in check.

Positive ifiranthezoo On Apr 15, 2004, ifiranthezoo from Florence, AL wrote:

These are really wonderful if you want to fill a bed quickly on a budget because they spread like wild fire. I have 3 colors mixed (purple, pink, and red) and they are a lovely show when all in bloom! I'm in Alabama zone 7.

Positive Happenstance On Aug 27, 2003, Happenstance from Northern California, CA wrote:

Reseeds prolifically, but seedlings are easily removed. A lovely filler in and among other tropicals with afternoon shade.

Positive MCecilioni On Jul 31, 2002, MCecilioni wrote:

I got my first plant from a friend and continue the tradition by sharing plants and seeds. I have both red and pink, and thoroughly enjoy the plants in Ga. from June to first frost. Hummingbird and butterfly attractor. Easy to collect seeds from pods which open when pressed lightly.

Positive jcurtis On Jun 16, 2002, jcurtis wrote:

We live in northern Alberta (Fort McMurray). We receive a lot of sun .Sunrise 4:32 am sunset 10:18 pm today June 16. I started with three plants, and planted them along a fence. The soil for six inches is good top soil but then turns to clay. I had trouble growing plants. Annuals were stunted and never a good show. The touch me nots did well the tallest growing 84inches and many blooms. They hid the fence and gave our patio a very private feeling. They self seed freely, and if the are growing were I don't want them they are easy to pull out. The flowers are exotic looking, the stalks are large and red, it is also fun to ask an unsuspecting person to touch the seed pods as they burst in their fingers. Kids love them.

Neutral Zanymuse On Aug 1, 2001, Zanymuse from Scotia, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant is a tender perennial that reseeds itself freely in damp shady areas. Seeds are tiny and collection is difficult.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Florence, Alabama
Alameda, California
Albany, California
Aptos, California
Arroyo Grande, California
Auburn, California
Brea, California
Calistoga, California
Cazadero, California
Clayton, California
Elk Grove, California
Eureka, California
Fremont, California
Martinez, California
Newport Beach, California
Redwood City, California
Richmond, California
Rohnert Park, California
Sacramento, California
San Jose, California (2 reports)
Santa Clara, California
Santa Cruz, California
Wilmington, Delaware
Evanston, Illinois
Indianapolis, Indiana
Barbourville, Kentucky
Minneapolis, Minnesota
New Paltz, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Oregon City, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Mountville, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Summerville, South Carolina
Houston, Texas
Spokane, Washington

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