BALSAM

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.

balsam seedlings
balsam seedlings with two leaves
3/4 inch tall, 1 inch wide
balsam in bloom
balsam in bloom

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.

balsam seedpod the largest is one-half inch long
balsam seedpod
the largest is one-half inch long

18 thoughts on “BALSAM”

  1. I’m not much for annuals. Perennials are what I prefer. Not that I can make anything grow. As I’ve said before, I can kill philodendron and that stuff is supposed to be indestructible.
    What about lavender? I would love to grow it, but haven’t had luck. I had a friend two blocks away who grew it, abundantly, so much so she was able to sell it to a neighboring herb store.
    Enjoying your columns very much.

    1. I’m working on the perennials. I started growing them from seed last year but some of those bargain seeds were chosen based on the picture on the seed packet. Lavendar hasn’t called out to me yet. Will have to wait until it does. Thanks for checking in.

  2. I always heard that once you plant balsam, you’re stuck with them.
    Apparently they are closely related to jewel weed, and if you’ve ever grown jewel weed, you know that you’ll have to thin out the seedlings next year.
    Both are used for poison ivy relief.
    But… Jewel weed is a native. Balsam is supposed to be an invasive exotic.

  3. I think your Balsam is quite pretty. Maybe it will grow more. What if you pinched the tops out so they would get bushy.

  4. Sorry, but I love Balsam, and I used to plant it every year, because mine never reseeded. or I pulled them up thinking they were weeds, which is a real possibility. I have’t been able to find the seeds for years. So, I’m heading to my local Dollar General and see if I can find some. Yeah you made my day.

  5. Larkspur. My larkspur came from Dollar General. If you can get some seeds, plant them in November and save seeds every summer. Gorgeous blue that plays well with Coreopsis (easy perennial), Silene and Poppies.

    1. Nell Jean – Nice of you to drop by. Thanks for the November planting tip on Larkspur. I have already begun to save seeds off of the one I got from Linda Cunningham. It has white and purple. Wish I had pink.

  6. Love the Balsam. I did not know though that they are an invasive exotic. I have not seen them in garden centers for quite a few years.

    1. Meta – I haven’t seen them in garden centers, either, but plants come and go in popularity with the growers. I have looked online for seed saving information but found nothing of real help. They have already started to put on a fuzzy seed pod. What I would like to know is this — should I wait for the seed pod to turn brown? One of the pods is very large but when I touch it, it doesn’t pop open like an impatien so I assume its not ready. I need some help with this. I even looked on Dave’s Garden for help. One W. VA. person had a very negative comment about them in line with the “invasive exotic” tag Stone gave them. She considered them weeds. I got 4 or 5 colors with mine – deep purple, light pink, orange/red – and the rest I can’t remember. I did not get a white.

  7. Loved this entry! You’re so cute, just discovering balsams now 🙂 I have fond memories terrorising my grandmother’s prized plants and popping all of the ‘poppers’ inside her house. Back in the ’80s they were really fashionable. You should keep growing them…. There are so many exotic varieties too (with flowers all over, not just on stems!!) and they’re great for shady places… Ok maybe I should calm down, it is just a plant 🙂

    1. Harmonious — Gardening fanatics can’t calm down over plants. We want them ALL even though we know we don’t have room. Well, I want the kind of balsam that grows flowers all over although my “stem balsams” have a hot pink/purple that makes my ears buzz when I look at it. 🙂 I probably will keep growing them. I had already searched the internet for how to save the seeds. Didn’t find much so now I’ll figger it out for myself. Good to hear from the other side of the pond!

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