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This plant is in my office with AC on from 8am to 7pm (low humidity); receives strong sun from 2pm to 5pm. I water it around every 4 days when the soil feels dry from my finger dip into the soil.

I have just noticed the droplets and touched it: they are sticky and sweet. Any advice?

2 Answers 2


It's one of two things, or probably a combination - Impatiens walleriana (which this one seems to be), commonly known as busy lizzie (or apparently, Patient Lucy in the States), is prone to guttation if water levels are high, or if its just been watered. The other thing it does sometimes is form what seem to be little sugar crystals, often on the stems or at leaf junctions, which are firm and cannot be confused with water droplets - these are normal and a sign of a healthy, functioning plant. This latter is said to be caused either by salts from the water being excreted, or alternatively, sugars excreted in the water droplets which then solidify. I incline to the latter explanation, but its interesting that these crystals are rarely, if ever, seen on Impatiens walleriana growing outdoors. One thing that may increase the number of droplets or crystals - if, when you water, you don't empty out any outer tray or pot after 30 minutes, so that the plant has its bottom sitting in water it doesn't actually need; empty that out after that time period.

I'd just add that your plant is not suffering from Impatiens Downy Mildew; this is a fungus like disease which has caused significant problems for commercial growers, is now widespread in the environment, and primarily affects I. walleriana; the New Guinea hybrids and Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) are not susceptible to it. It can be grown outdoors in frost free areas, or kept as a houseplant, although if you want it to flower indoors, it needs maximum daylight with some sun if possible, and probably pinching out periodically to keep it bushy. It should last some years as a houseplant, but most people dispose of them after a time because they start to look lean and lanky and not very attractive, which is why pinching out helps to make it last longer.

  • I wrote to WSU cooperative about the New Guinea being susceptible to this fungus that appears on the underside of the leaves or blight. They told me that they thought it wasn't susceptible but now they are having second thoughts from new trials. Really a bummer. To find flowering plants for the shade is tough. I love the New Guinea impatiens far better I hope it isn't susceptible.
    – stormy
    Dec 6, 2016 at 21:22
  • @stormy - are you talking about Impatiens Downy Mildew (plasmopara obducens) or some other infection?
    – Bamboo
    Dec 6, 2016 at 21:37
  • You know that is a good question; there are so many NAMES such as Balsam Blight? Or is that a different disease than plasmopara obducens? Everybody has to make stuff tougher to learn, grins!! Just ONE name. Thanks!
    – stormy
    Dec 7, 2016 at 1:42
  • @Bamboo thanks a lot for your elaborate information. After checking today, I am pretty confident it is not any mildew. Going to watch out for standing water! My other 2 pots have bloomed; bigger one has no droplets but the smaller one has it. Pinching out the leaves or flowers to keep it bushy?
    – Yennie
    Dec 7, 2016 at 6:57
  • @Yennie - I mean stems/leaves, I don't know about you but I want the flowers - just sometimes, its better to chop off shoots at the top to try to keep it nice and bushy instead of growing tall and lanky, but if its in good light, it may be fine anyway. You'd know if it got Downy Mildew - plant collapse occurs within a couple of days, it looks almost like its been struck by hard frost
    – Bamboo
    Dec 7, 2016 at 11:47

Well, I sure learned some stuff about 'Busy Lizzies'...I have NEVER heard this name for impatiens. Always learning something new. In addition, I just learned that impatiens have a serious disease where we are supposed to rip them out and dispose of them in a proper facility to not spread the spores of this Balsam Blight. An amazing quirk in our nursery hothouses. I had no idea.

Yours is indoors in an office and it sounds as if you've had it there for a few seasons? Has it ever flowered? Is it in potting soil out of a bag or does it look like garden soil?

These 'droplets'...hummmm. I am going to just have to use my critical thinking as my library is not here and certainly could not find a direct answer off this internet. These droplets must be carbohydrates excreted via stomata. I am thinking this plant is using this sugary liquid as a 'trap crop' so insects don't ruin the flowers. The flowers are self pollinating and insects would only waste their time. The insects can be satisfied by easy to harvest sugary globules and leave the flowers alone. Interesting!

The main import here is that impatiens to include the hardier New Guinea type have gotten some gnarly disease and we are supposed to NOT purchase or plant them, get rid of them and any soil that has been connected with Impatiens to include their dropped leaves, again, to try to suppress this Balsam Blight. Your plant is actually a rarity...or from a very naughty nursery trying to unload their impatiens. Impatiens was a multi million dollar industry! And this blight is costing lots of millions of bucks.

I had no idea! Thank you for this question!! I wouldn't worry about these 'secretions'. Not a huge population of insects to attract in an office. Cut flowers off as soon as they start aging. I always cut flowers and flower buds off any plant that needs a boost, without waiting to see the pretties. Pinch back the apical or terminal buds to put more energy into the main plant. Do not use too much fertilizer and make sure the NPK formulation is lower N than the P and K percentage numbers. Don't worry if you seen any insects who are attracted by the 'sweets'.

Make sure to keep this plant and its soil inside, never outside and when you dispose of it put it in a plastic bag to take to the dump who should know how to handle problem organics.

I had no idea this had happened with Impatiens. Major bummer. Not many annuals at all that flower in shade like Impatiens! They are telling us to find substitutes so that we can get rid of this blight. Like begonias... You do know that impatiens is classified as an annual. Very short lived. Don't feel guilty when this plant passes on. There are far better indoor plants. In fact, I've never planted impatiens for an indoor application. But I just found out that this plant needs to be cleaned up and gone fallow to help reduce the danger of this disease being perpetuated. So we can once again plant impatiens for color, for flowers...in the shade out of doors!

  • I sowed the seeds in one pot and 3 germinated. Separated them into 3 different pots and 2 bloomed, this has yet to bloom. One does not have the droplets, another one does. I have had tiny ants coming from pantry and they were spreading mealy bugs among my Kalanchoe Obtusa, so yeah I am wary of ants being attracted to the sweet droplets on my Busy Lizzie... Thanks for your comments! Btw, my southern facing window (tropical Singapore) at office has really strong sun and I could germinate quite a number of seeds deemed implausible to be germinate indoor :)
    – Yennie
    Dec 7, 2016 at 6:49
  • Whoa, nice place to live, Yennie. Ants will not harm your plants but if they try to make your plant into a paddock for aphids then some simple plant cleaning will help. Ask another question if this happens! I had no idea about impatiens becoming a problem out of doors. So indoors with lots of light is a great place for them. Glad to run into your question, seriously. And you speaketh the gardening language as well!! You must be using potting soil, yes? Pinching off flowers and the apical tips sends energy back into the main plant for more vigorous vegetative growth and far more flowers.
    – stormy
    Dec 7, 2016 at 21:26

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