Jewelweed is a type of impatiens wildflower that’s known to burst into seeds when touched.
(This is why it’s also known as “spotted touch-me-nots”.)
While that sounds cool and all, did you know that Impatiens capensis can provide amazing plant cover and takes care of itself once established? It doesn’t even need to be reseeded!
How’s that for easy TLC? You don’t even need a green thumb.
It’s a gorgeous, large annual that self-seeds and does very well in soggy, shady locations.
It’s called jewelweed because the leaves glisten in the sun when it’s grown under wet conditions. This wildflower is perfect for those looking for something easy to grow with minimal care.
It also brings in beneficial pollinators, which can help pollinate your other plants. Expect bees, butterflies, birds, and even deer!
Let’s learn about how to grow and care for jewelweed!
Quick care guide: Jewelweed
|Plant type||Annual wildflower|
|Scientific name||Impatiens capensis|
|Other names||Orange jewelweed, common jewelweed, spotted jewelweed, jewelweed, spotted touch-me-not, silver leaf, silver-cap, lady's eardrops, or orange balsam|
|Soil type||Organic, rich, loamy, moist, wet|
|Soil pH||3.5-7.5 (acidic to neutral)|
|Sunlight requirement||Partial sun|
|Bloom season||Mid summer (June) through fall|
|Colors||Orange, yellow, green, rust, brown, red, lime|
|Max height||5 feet|
|Max width||3 feet|
|Low temperature tolerance||40F|
|High temperature tolerance||95F|
|Ideal temperature range||60-75F|
|Humidity||High (80% or higher)|
|Watering requirements||1-2 inches of water per week, 2 watering sessions, adjust for rain or drought|
|Fertilizer requirements||Optional, supplement soil with mulch or compost to help add nutrients, use low nitrogen plant food if needed|
|Plant food NPK||4-8-4|
|Days until germination||6-8 weeks|
|Days until harvest||Not harvestable|
|Bloom time||June, July, August, September, October|
|Speed of growth||Fast|
|Hardiness zones||USDA hardiness zones 3-10|
|Plant depth||From seed: Scatter on soil surface, plant at zero inches, no need to bury seeds
From transplants: Plant same depth as original container plant
|Plant spacing||18 inches|
|Plant with||Virginia bluebell
|Don't plant with||Plants that have opposing husbandry requirements or native plants. Will suppress weeds|
|Propagation method||From seed, seedlings, transplants|
|Common pests||Fungus gnats, aphids, caterpillars, leaf borers, flies, fleas|
|Common diseases||Plant rust, P. recondita, root rot, leaf spot.|
|Grown in container||Yes|
|Care level||Easy (Very easy to care for, good for beginners)|
|Best uses||Landscaping, stream sides, pond edges, boggy conditions, forest edging, woodlands, wild gardens, brings in pollinators, brings in wildlife|
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is a common wildflower in the home garden because of its colorful flowers. People love this plant. The flowers are a tie-dye mix of colors paired with dark green foliage that brings out the color.
The flower is commonly grown as a bedding annual. In the wild, you’ll find it along stream banks, bogs, or drains. The plants grow up to 5 feet in the wild and bloom from late spring to fall.
It’s commonly found in North America, growing along ditches, streams, wetlands, pond edges, creeks, bottomless soils, boggy environments, and other wet areas.
They can be orange or spotted yellow with rusty spots. The seed capsules will explode if touched, but they’re harmless. They get their name “touch me not” because of the “explosive” nature of the seed pods. Just watch your eyes!
Yellow jewelweed (Impatiens pallida) belongs to Impatiens capensis. It’s less common than the orange jewelweed. The yellow jewelweed blooms are yellow with brownish spots, while the orange jewelweed has smaller blooms with solid orange coloration.
Also known as “touch me nots” these plants are often confused with poisonous plants such as Swedish ivy, Virgnia creeper, or poison ivy. But the only reason they’re called that is that they’ll fling their seeds when disturbed.
They make excellent border plants because of their ability to bring pollinators to the garden. Putting them on the outside of your garden’s perimeter helps bring in beneficial pollinators to the rest of the yard.
There are two primary species in the US. These wildflowers naturally grow in ditches, gullies, forests, or other areas of filtered light. They love shady areas with just minimal sunlight per day.
The popular one is the spotted orange jewelweed, Impatiens capensis. It loves water with rich soil that’s completely soaked. When was the last time you could plant something that doesn’t need well-draining soil?
Well, Impatiens capensis likes it!
Impatiens pallida is the second most popular impatiens in this category. This one is fully yellow and doesn’t like standing water.
Use jewelweed to fill shady or boggy spots where other plants don’t grow. Pond edges, lake edges, os teams are common locations.
There are over 1,000 listed species of impatiens. You’ve seen them in landscapes, both in the neighborhood and in public. For good reason.
They’re super easy to grow and require very little care once they’re established. Plus, they have a ton of color, so ROI for your efforts is extremely high with impatiens
Is it easy to grow?
For jewelweed, there are some small quirks that you’ll need to accommodate with.
It’s slightly more tedious to grow compared to other impatiens like Impatiens walleriana, but it’s still beginner friendly.
That’s what we’ll cover in this guide. Even if you’re completely new to impatiens, jewelweed can be an extremely rewarding wildflower plant to add to your garden. Pair it with California Poppies in the background for a real show.
Is jewelweed poisonous?
Jewelweed has been used as a natural remedy for soothing poison ivy rash. The sap from the leaves and stems has been used to clear up the effects of poison ivy.
However, there are no published reports assessing the safety or toxicity of using jewelweed. Jewelweed is confused as dangerous or poisonous since it’s often found with poison ivy or used to remedy its effects of it.
When in reality, it’s quite the opposite!
WebMD says jewelweed is “possibly safe” for most people when applied on the skin or taken orally.
Regardless, you must consult with your healthcare professional if you plan to use it.
What does jewelweed look like?
Jewelweed has its signature flower with a semi-bell-shaped bloom. It can be spotted orange with tints of yellow amongst dark green foliage.
They grow upwards of 5 feet tall, which is much taller than other impatiens that usually only reach a woeful 16 inches. Jewelweed will grow into an upright position with branched flowers.
The blooms are single blossoms, unlike their cousins which have double or even triple blossoms.
The trumped blooms have a curved shape. Yellow jewelweed may have white spots at the flower’s opening. Orange jewelweed orange spots.
Both species will self-seed whether pollinators are present or not.
When the flower pods rupture, they’ll disperse their seed which will get you even more jewelweed. The seeds are branching with thick stems and blue-green oval leaves. The leaves are partially fuzzy and toothed.
The flowers are cornucopia shaped which will produce seed pods that explode when touched.
While it’s exciting, the exploding seed capsules are harmless. The plant can help bring in animals or wildlife while discouraging weeds. The soil must be moist, shady, and well-draining.
They can grow up to 5 feet, but will generally only max out at 2-3 feet. If they grow close together, they can stack on each other and grow taller.
Two primary flowers bloom from summer (June) until fall. The timing is perfect for hummingbirds, which are its primary pollinators of it.
The conspicuous orange-yellow bloom is one flower. The other is a green blossom that doesn’t open and is self-pollinated.
Showy flowers are about 1-2 inches long with a funnel-shaped bloom. The seeds are consumed by many wildlife species.
How to propagate jewelweed
Jewelweed will propagate itself without human intervention.
It can reseed itself after it’s been planted and the seeds will give rise to additional plants (assuming the conditions are right).
But you need to start somewhere. And there are a few ways to do so. Let’s go over each of them.
Starting from seed
This is the most rewarding option to get started. Get some seeds from a reputable seller. Jewelweed seeds must remain moist, so you’ll likely need to visit a nursery to buy them.
Ordering online will result in dry seeds which aren’t viable. If you have a friend or neighbor that has jewelweed growing, you can collect seeds from them.
You’ll need some way to transport it, like a food container that traps humidity to prevent dry outs. It likes full or partial shade with organic soil that retains wetness.
It tolerates sunny locations where summers are cool. If the soil has no nutrients, use compost or manure first before planting.
The plant should be fully developed. There will be visible seed pods that sprout from summer to late fall. The seeds can be harvested by gently touching the pod, which will then force it to open and drop its seed.
Place your container right underneath the pod as you do this to collect them. Get what you need and seal it up. It’s back to your garden!
Once the seeds are collected, they need to be planted within a few hours. If they dry out, they won’t germinate. Seeds need light to germinate, so don’t cover them up.
They also should be thinned when they reach 7 inches or so. Clip out excess seedlings using sterilized pruners.
For cooler zones:
The seeds will need to be cold stratified before planting.
Get a plastic bag and then fill it with some light peat moss. Wet it down. Then put the seeds inside and seal it. Put the bag in your fridge for 6-8 weeks before the last frost date.
For warmer zones:
So you need to decide if you want to propagate them outside or inside. If you do it outside, it saves you a step later since you don’t need to move them out or harden them off.
If you start them indoors, the only reason should be because of the temperature. If the temps are good enough outdoors, then start outdoors!
Give the plot a nice do-over with a rake. This is necessary to stratify the seeds. Scatter planting works well. Just randomly scatter them in the plot to get that random, fullness when they sprout.
You can always thin them later if you want to keep them tidy. Cover with 0.25 inches of soil or just let them sit as long as rain or wind doesn’t blow them out.
Sow during the winter so they can stratify on their own. Jewelweed seeds won’t germinate without cold exposure.
If sowing indoors, use a seed starter tray and fill it with loamy, well-draining soil. You can use coconut coir or compost to help improve nutrients.
You can also sow individually in 4-inch pots if you want to do that.
But a seed kit is a lot cheaper and you can sow upwards of 3 dozen at once! It depends on how much jewelweed you wanna grow. Water gently. Then put 2-3 seeds per compartment.
There’s NO NEED to cover them with soil since you’re growing indoors. Keep it moist. Use a humidity dome or plastic bag to keep the moisture. Mist daily to keep the humidity up.
Seeds will germinate at room temperature. Place it somewhere out of drafts or HVAC. Jewelweeds germinate within 6-8 weeks at 50-70F.
It should get a bit of dappled sunlight daily, but not direct full sun. This will burn it. Thin to the strongest plant after seedlings emerge.
When they sprout, they need to be quickly transitioned to the garden so they can harden off.
Harden them off by acclimating them to the outside conditions for a few hours each day for a week.
If you start them outside in the first place, there’s no need to worry about this since they’ll be acclimated to it
But if your zone is just too cold, then yeah, you gotta do it.
The other choice is to buy a pre-grown plant from the garden center/nursery near you.
The container they’re sold in generally only can provide space for so long, so you’ll need to move them into the garden.
Prepare a space the same depth and width as the original container it came in. If the pot is biodegradable, you can just plant it without removing it.
If not, then gently remove the jewelweed from the pot and then plant it. The plant is extremely fragile, so be careful. You can wet the soil to help loosen it if it’s firm.
Once it’s planted, give it a good watering. Seedlings should be spaced at least 18 inches apart so they don’t compete for nutrients.
During germination, keep it moist using a humidity dome. Don’t let the water dry out between watering. When the seedlings have hardened off, the plant will still be fragile.
Tip the pot and lose it with water to help dislodge it from the container. Don’t handle them too roughly.
Firm the plant in place and then give it a good watering to settle. The stems are strong which makes them hardy when established, but younger seedlings are fragile. So be careful.
Did you know the stems contain a clear sap that’s used to ease the itch of poison ivy? Yes, it’s true!
How to care for jewelweed
This section covers general care guidelines for jewelweed (both orange and yellow). Depending on your zone, your plant’s care needs will vary.
Consult these guidelines as basic TLC for jewelweed. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments section! Jewelweed plant care is easy.
If the soil is wet, shady, and gets enough moisture, it will seed itself. Use mulch if your soil dries out quickly.
Jewelweed grows in USDA hardiness zones 3-10. They can be found all over the US and grow in the woodlands.
When planting in the garden, they need to have specific conditions to fully develop those large blooms
Thankfully, they’ve adapted to a wide range of zones in the US, so it’s ready for a variety of different garden setups.
Note that orange vs. yellow species will have different requirements, but will tolerate the same zones.
The soil you choose is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the biggest blooms possible.
Use soil that’s rich, loamy, and full of organic nutrients. Don’t use dry, clumpy, or poor-quality soil.
Put in some organic compost or manure with the soil- about 2-3 inches of it. This helps increase the nutrient density of the soil and will eliminate the need for plant food later on. Moisture is good for orange jewelweed.
Yellow varieties can tolerate a drier substrate.
Jewelweed prefers acidic to neutral soil pH. Aim for pH values between 3.5-7.5. Amend your soil if the pH is too basic (alkaline) with natural soil amendments such as sulfur, peat moss, sulfuric acid, vinegar, lemon juice, iron sulfate, or aluminum sulfate.
These materials are readily available in your local garden center or online (check Amazon). Use a soil pH tester to get the acidity within the right range for your jewelweed.
Space each plant at least 18 inches apart. If placed too close together, the plants will compete for nutrients. Jewelweed plants are found in small clusters in nature.
If seeds are sown nearby, they’ll help support each other to grow taller. If soil conditions are good and can provide for such several plants in a small area, then it should be OK.
Otherwise, provide ample space to help reduce competition.
Seeds should be simply placed on the soil surface, not buried. The seeds can be scattered for a wild grown-in look if desired. Be careful when watering so that you don’t wash the seeds out of place.
If transplanting a plant you purchased from the nursery, try to create the same environment as the original container- with the same depth and width.
Jewelweed prefers warmer temperatures that are wet. The suitable temperature range is 60-75F. If temperatures drop below 40F, the plant will not bloom and the flowers will drop.
It can also stunt their growth. If temperatures exceed 90F, blooming may also stop or the plant may scorch/burn. This is not a full sun plant that can give 8 hours of direct sunlight.
It needs only a few hours of it with partial, filtered light for the rest of the time. It prefers warmer, but not hot temperatures with plenty of moisture.
Getting your shade cycles with enough moisture will help optimize its flower production over time.
Jewelweed natively grows near streams or ponds in woody areas, so the higher the moisture, the closer to home it feels. This is a high humidity plant that thrives on moisture, so ensure that you provide it by using the right moisture retaining soil. Spotted jewelweed requires less moisture. Consistently moist soil is required. Don’t let it dry out between waterings.
Fertilizer isn’t necessary for most jewelweed species. If proper conditions are kept in the soil along with a good watering regimen, they should be sufficient.
If you have poor soil conditions or want to optimize their growth, you can supplement with some organic mulch or compost. This is why choosing the right soil type is important.
Using high-quality soil will feed your jewelweed until it becomes established. Otherwise, you may need to amend it later on.
Fertilizer that has lower nitrogen values will help produce more blooms. If your plant has too many leggy leaves but not enough flowers, use a fertilizer that has an NPK ratio of 4-8-4.
Organic plant food is ideal if you can get it. Otherwise, general-purpose plant food will do. You can use balanced NPK ratios if you don’t have a problem with leggy leaves.
But if your soil is good enough, plant food isn’t needed to feed jewelweed. You can use a shovelful of organic compost in the summer if they aren’t growing well. When established, weeds will be nothing to them.
Until it does, pull weeds when you see them.
Jewelweed will produce unscented flowers from mid-summer to fall. Each flower has up to 5 petals and will reach a max diameter of 3 inches across.
They can be orange, yellow, or yellow-orange.
They have a reddish spotting that can look like rust. Deadhead the spent blooms to encourage more blooming. Use less nitrogen fertilizer to encourage more blooms.
Keep jewelweed well watered when established. If your region is prone to drought, you’ll need to water more often to keep the blooms going.
For regions with plenty of rainfall, supplemental watering may not be necessary. Drier regions will need 1-2 inches of water, which is 2-3 watering sessions weekly.
Note that ambient climate, humidity, and temperature will affect how much water you need. Moisture retaining soil will hold water efficiently compared to other soils, especially if you supplement with coconut coir, peat moss, or some other water-absorbing substrate.
If you’re ever on the fence when deciding if you should get the expensive or cheaper soil, the premium one pays off over time by saving you water, time, and energy.
If the leaves droop, water more often. If the leaves fall off, ensure that you’re watering multiple times per week at the base of the plant. Cold weather can also make the leaves drop.
Provide ample sunlight if growing in zones 3-10. Partial shade setups work well with orange jewelweed, which prefers more moisture compared to yellow jewelweed.
If your garden has some source of natural filtration for bright full sun, such as taller plants, it’s a good location. Dappled sunlight near bushes, streams, or ponds is ideal. Look for a shady location where full sun is limited to just a few hours daily.
Pruning is often unnecessary for jewelweed because it can reduce the number of blooms it produces. Unless the foliage is yellowing, browning, or infested, it should be left alone.
Spent flowers can be removed. Leaves that have active infestations, pests, or just look ugly should also be removed. Providing enough shade with adequate moisture should help keep your specimens looking good.
If you decide to prune, be careful not to accidentally break the seed pods.
When they explode, they’ll dump their seeds. Prune with sterilized scissors only. Use rubbing alcohol to sterilize between plants so cross contamination won’t happen.
When the season comes to an end, you have the option of cutting your jewelweed back.
However, if you choose to leave it alone, that’s fine too. Just don’t step on the seeds as that can kill the germination process. Cutting it back for the winter may help keep bugs or other critters out of the garden.
But again, it’s not necessary especially if you don’t want to hurt the plant from self-propagation itself.
The seeds will burst from the seed pods and then scatter themselves within a few feet around the host plant. If you step into this area, it can kill them. If you prefer to NOT let it self sow, simply cut off faded flowers.
You can also wrap them with bags or linens towards the season’s end to prevent pollination. Seeds that escape will sprout, but you can dig them out and prevalent them or pluck them.
Jewelweed is an annual, so there’s no need to save it for next season. It’ll seed itself and propagate new jewelweed plants in the spring. No winterizing is needed.
Jewelweed will self-seed in the autumn, so you must provide enough space between each plant. If not, you’ll need to thin or remove the seedlings so they don’t overcrowd and then compete for nutrients.
Jewelweed will outcompete other plants.
When two of them are placed too close together, they’ll starve each other until they both become stunted. Jewelweed doesn’t need to be propagated once you have at least a single plant going.
Self-seeding in zones 3-10, no human intervention is required. Avoid planting too close to other jewelweeds or other plants in your garden as the seeds will disperse themselves which can compete with other garden plants for nutrients.
The seed pods will burst on their own which helps distribute the seeds.
Seeds can be harvested from the pods by placing a bag over the pod and then gently shaking it to drop the seeds.
Put them in an envelope for next season. Seeds will need to be stratified before use in some environments.
Similar to other wildflowers, there are only a few pests that can do enough damage to harm jewelweed. Since it is a wildflower, it naturally brings in animals that like to munch on it.
Deer are a primary concern, but only if they are high in population. You’ll get deer coming in and chewing on the leaves, but if it’s just a few of them, they shouldn’t be able to do any major damage.
Other insects such as caterpillars, aphids, mites, flies, fungus gnats, or other leaf borers may show up to eat the leaves. But rarely will it kill the plant unless it’s in a weakened state or not established yet.
Most bugs can be ridden with some natural neem oil or insecticidal soap. Use as instructed.
What animals eat jewelweed?
Birds are also attracted to the flowers. It also brings in birds like songbirds, hummingbirds, etc.
Butterflies, bees, white-footed mice, bobwhites, ruffed grouse, and moths are also feeders of the seeds. Wasps, flies, and other pollinators will come for the flowers.
Birds are the main pollinator that’ll make use of the plant’s flowers. If you’re growing other crops, it can help get more beneficial pollinators to your yard.
Not everything that comes to jewelweed is a pollinator. They’ll help pollinate your plants, but jewelweed will do fine on its own.
Impatiens are vulnerable to fungus, such as plant rust from P. recondita. If your jewelweed leaves turn orange, yellow, or red, it’s likely plant rust. The stems may also become wilted or twisted. Rust should be pruned off immediately.
Fungal infections are common in humid environments. Root rot, leaf spot, or other fungal problems can be fixed by reducing watering and/or pruning.
Jewelweed is a good companion plant that pairs well with other crops or foliage that shares similar environments.
Moist, boggy setups are what it thrives in.
So consider planting it with other moisture-loving plants:
- Virginia bluebell
- Great Waterleaf
- Cardinal flowers
- Spring Beauty
It can also outcompete non-native plants and suppress weeds, so it’s a double-edged sword. If you have other plants growing nearby, it may compete for nutrients.
Don’t plant jewelweed with
Avoid planting jewelweed with plants that prefer drier conditions. This eliminates many popular garden plants from the list. Slow-growing or smaller plants can be outcompeted by jewelweed’s hungry tendencies.
Jewelweed is amazing to grow along streams or ponds. They do well in moist soil conditions and will naturally grow in these setups. They can also be used for landscaping or forest edging.
Boggy soils are also ideal for these guys. Jewelweed makes a good plant cover or gives your garden that jungle-like setup. They bring in animals, and pollinators, and can be planted next to crops to help them get fertilized.
Bees are also jewelweed friendly as they can make a good forage source beehive.
This is not an indoor plant and will need to be put outside when they sprout.
The only time they should be grown indoors is during germination or hardening off. It’s much too big to be grown inside the house, let alone provide the right environment for it to thrive.
Growing in containers
Jewelweed should be planted in pots only if you wish to keep them limited to specific parts of your garden.
Container planting has its benefits, such as the ability to relocate it if needed. You can modify the amount of light or shade it gets simply by moving the pot.
But you shouldn’t be doing this often as they don’t like being moved once settled. Container growing also helps you keep the plant confined to a single space, as container-grown plants generally won’t grow as big as soil-planted ones.
If you plan to grow jewelweed in a pot, make sure you water it enough as water evaporates quickly in pots. The soil you use must be a high-quality potting mix that’s well draining. Pooling is bad. Be sure to change the pot when it outgrows it every so often.
Otherwise, care is the same as soil down jewelweed.
Commonly asked questions about jewelweed
This section includes questions commonly asked by readers about jewelweed care.
If you don’t find your answer here, post your questions using the comments form at the end of this page.
Is jewelweed invasive?
Jewelweed is considered invasive in some zones. Ornamental jewelweed (Impatiens glandulifea) is an invasive plant, but it’s not the same as orange or yellow jewelweed.
The orange/yellow varieties are noted for their ability to compete with native plants by the US Forest Service.
What does jewelweed smell like?
Jewelweed is scentless. The flowers don’t have smells. It has no fragrance.
How do you make jewelweed tea?
Here’s a video that shows you how to make tea. Before consuming, consult with your GP. Jewelweed tea has no proven benefits that are backed by official sources.
Is jewelweed succulent?
Jewelweed isn’t a succulent. It’s a wildflower. Although it does look exotic with those toothed leaves and large blossoms, it’s still not succulent.
Does jewelweed grow near poison ivy?
It’s said to grow near poison ivy, but this isn’t confirmed. It does prefer many of the same environments that poison ivy grows- near ditches, ponds, or streams.
So you’ll often find them growing nearby each other, but just because you see ivy doesn’t mean you’ll see jewelweed. Poison ivy grows in most of the US, but jewelweed is limited to zones 3-10.
Is jewelweed a perennial?
Jewelweed is an annual wildflower. It’s only good for one season, but it ensures that you only have to wait a few months for blooms to come out. If conditions are optimal, it’ll self-seed for next season.
You may get some value out of these resources:
- Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis – Wisconsin Horticulture
- Jewelweed – Illinois Extension
- Species Spotlight | Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis Meerb. ) – Reddit
Enjoy your jewelweed!
Now that you know how to care for jewelweed, you can enjoy those gorgeous yellow/orange blooms in your garden. If you really wanna turn it into a jungle, jewelweed is a perfect addition to do so.
The ease of care, the dense plant coverage, and the benefit of bringing in wildlife (birds, bees, deer, rodents, etc.) to your garden are all-inclusive with Impatiens capensis!
Do you have any tips for other readers? Put your thoughts in the comments section below and share your words of wisdom! If you have any feedback on this article, please let me know as well by doing the same!
I’ve always been interested in gardening, but I never took it seriously until I was forcefully gifted an orchid. This was what got me into the hobby and I’ve never looked back. I enjoy writing about it, but not nearly as much as getting into the dirt and sculpting the perfect decorative ornamental to enjoy for the times.