Grow Jewel Weed, or Touch-Me-Not, in Damp. Shady Spots
If you ever take a walk along a stream in the woods on a summer's day, you may see some delightful orange flowers in the shade. You could be looking at a patch of Jewelweed. Jewelweed is a hardy but beautiful flower that grows along streams or damp shady areas in the eastern part of the country. It's our American version of impatiens. The 2 natives are Spotted Jewelweed (sort of orange) and Pale Jewelweed (yellow). Although it's an annual, jewelweed spreads out and competes with weeds attempting to grow nearby.
Where to Grow Jewelweed
If you want to create a naturalized garden, or if you have a patch of damp, shady ground that only produces weeds, Jewelweed could work for you. You can also grow it in a container or a bog garden to attract a flotilla of hummingbirds (they love this plant). Just keep it out of direct sunlight.
Where Not to Grow Jewelweed
Orange and Pale Jewelweed are native to the eastern United States. They cause problems in the Pacific Northwest, where they hybridize with Orange Balsam and other rare flowers. Remember, native plants aren't native everywhere.
Where to Find Jewelweed
Jewelweed grows well from seeds, so you can order them online from many sources. Just be sure to specify impatiens capensis or impatients pallida (the yellow one) or else you could end up with something completely different.
How to Grow Jewelweed
Jewelweed is a self-seeder, so it's pretty self-sustaining once it gets established. After the last frost day, spread seeds on wet soil with plenty of organic amendments in it, such as Miracle-Gro® Organic Choice® Garden Soil. In containers, you can use Miracle-Gro® Moisture Control® Potting Mix. Keep the soil wet throughout the growing season. As long as they're in shade, your Jewelweed plants should be up and blooming throughout the summer or later. These plants like to spread, so be sure to keep an eye on them.
Jewelweed or Touch-Me-Not: What's in a Name?
There are some interesting stories about how this plant got 2 of its common names. It's called jewelweed because morning dew gathers on the edges of the leaves, creating beads of moisture that look like jewels in the morning light. Touch-Me-Not comes from the way it disperses seeds. Touch the seed pods, and they shoot seeds several feet afar.
Photos by Tom Barnes, University of Kentucky