Post last updated: October 11th, 2018
I bought one package of Balsam seeds at Dollar General last year at their end-of-season half price sale. Most of Dollar General’s seeds are three-packages-for-a-dollar and once they go on sale, they become an outright steal. An idiot like me will buy ANYTHING at that price. Even Balsam. It didn’t matter that I had never heard of Balsam.
I forged ahead in my lunatic fashion and planted them. They germinated and grew well. I later transplanted them into my flower beds in a bare spot (I have a lot of these spots). About all I can say for them is that they fill the bare spot. They don’t really do a thing for me because the flowers grow along the stem and are hard to see.
At the point when I decided I didn’t really like them, I got on the internet to do a little research. I had used the seed packet as a marker and the only word still readable was Balsam. This is typical for me – anything involving good sense is always hindsight. Save your seed packets. Internet pickings for “balsam” were slim. It turns out they are impatiens balsamina also known as Garden Balsam, Rose Balsam and Touch Me Not. They are native to India and are used in the Philippines to make tea (boil the seeds after drying to get tea).
Just like other impatiens, the seed pods burst explosively when touched but they differ in growth habit. The stems are thick, the leaves are saw-toothed and, again, the flowers are almost inside the plant. They are annuals that must be replanted each year. Fat chance of that unless I save the seeds and still need to fill bare spots.
Most of Dollar General’s seeds are from “American Seed” (Plantation Products, Norton, MA who also supplies those 10 and 20 cent seed packages you stumble on, NK Seeds and Fredonia Seeds found in Ace Hardware, Big Lots, Home Depot, Osco Drug, TruValue and Wal-Mart). I have had fairly good luck with their seeds germinating but must admit I have never had high expectations from a 33 cent package of seed. Thus, I am never disappointed. If I get ONE plant out of it, I’m delirious. A 33 cent plant beats the stars out of garden center prices these days. As you can see from the photo above, I got several plants for my 33 cents. It’s just a shame they don’t ring my chimes.
Unfortunately, I won’t be hitting Dollar General’s half price sale this year because everybody else and his brother decided to buy up their seeds and they are already sold out. This is a major bummer.