Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Touch Me Not!

What is the funnest plant in your garden??? What is the one plant that makes everyone laugh and happy? Well in my garden it is the Touch me nots. Sure I have pineapple sage (smells like pineapples), lemon verbena (strong lemon smell), agastache (licorice smell), lambs ears (soft fuzzy touch) and a few other plants I consider fun for children and adults like, but none can compare to the touch me nots.

Touch me nots are also known as Jewelweed. Their botanical name is Impatiens capensis. They grow to about 3-4 feet tall in my garden and are well branched. There is a new variety out as published in a spring issue of Fine Gardening. I ordered these blue touch me nots from Cistus Nursery in Portland Oregon. The plants weren't too awful expensive but the shipping was more than the cost of two plants I purchased! It was well worth it because just look at that blue. These have been blooming since June. The orange touch me nots since August. So what makes these plants fun? Just ask my friend Judie, or Mike, or Aleesa and Vonna, or my neighbor's children as they all found out in person what is fun about these plants. The seedpods are little bombs just ready to explode with the slightest touch. I always like to surprise people and say here, look get yourself some seeds. Of course the seedpod explodes and they jump and are shocked thinking they did something wrong. They broke it! Such a fun plant for me and them! Of course the mini explosion feels a bit funny to the unfamiliar. These plants are lots of fun. As a kid in Maine we kids would find touch me nots in the woods and endeavor to pop all the seedpods we could find.
I have quite a stand of touch me nots. The gardening year of 2007 did set them way back, but they are still here. If I walk through my stand of these lovely wildflowers the seedpods pop like crazy and I can hear the seeds falling and exploding all around me. Quite a neat thing. The seedpod is pictured above with ripe seeds below. The last picture is even better at showing just how the seedpod breaks apart. It is literally spring loaded and those seeds can fly a good 5 feet I am guessing. The seedpod automatically drops from the plant once it is exploded.
I have heard that only hummingbirds can pollinate these wildflowers due to the set up of the pistil and stamen in the cone shaped flower. I can't find research on this, but take my word for it when I say the hummingbirds are thick and heavy in this garden. The sap of the jewelweed can also be used as an antidote to poison ivy. Good thing since both of these plants grow in the same area. A lifesaver for kayakers and rock climbers like my two daughters. You need only break the stems and rub the sap on the affected area of skin by the urushiol oil from the poison ivy.

These plants are normally woodland plants. As such they need part shade and moist, organic soil. I have mine situated in a low area amongst a hedge of arborvitae. One year you could just see the tips of the arborvitae and NO weeds grew in the garden due to the micro-climate the jewelweed produces when it grows happily. They return from seeds every year in the same spot-though spreading a bit they are easily contained.

So, now that you know the funnest, neatest plant in my garden (at least for now)-a spring loaded touch me not, what is your funnest plant? The one plant your visitors most enjoy having fun with?

in the garden....


  1. I enjoyed the Saints facial expressions when he exploded one! I am sure I had the same face when I exploded one as well... lol...

    I have fun picking out my plants.
    I have fun buying my plants.
    I have fun bringing my plants home.
    I have fun picking out the perfect spot for my plants.
    I have fun putting my plants in the ground.
    I dont have fun watering them all summer long though.. lol...

    I guess my fun plant would have to be the butterfly bushes. There is always so much fun activity going on with the butterflies, bees and hummers.

  2. I forgot to mention this money saving tip! Sorry late in the night or early in the morning, hum, which is it? I cannot sleep tonight.. argggg...

    I had two of the salespersons at the Garden Center at Lowes this past week tell me to bring back all the plants that died on me for a refund. I knew they had a return policy but I have never done this before. Since I lost so many things this year, I decided what the heck as I did still have the receipts. I dug out the remains of 12 plants and Low and Behold, they refunded me over $80.00! So keep good records of your purchases and they WILL refund your money as they did for me today... That is $80 that I can spend next spring…

  3. My favorite is a mosquito plant. I have them in pots on all my decks, and they really do work, and if we are going for a walk in the woods we will just break off a few stems, roll them around in our hands to crush them and then rub them on us and stick the crushed stems in our pockets.

  4. Loved the post Tina. Afraid I don't have any plant as fun as that but the few trees that I have are an open house for myriad birds, so these are fun plants-- in a way!!

  5. Tina,

    Hi! Love this little plant, although he was scarce this year in the wildflower was very dry under the Hop-Hornbeam tree. I know that bees visit it but hadn't seen the hummers. Thank you for show casing it!


  6. Thanks for this awesome fun post, tina. I'm always looking for things like this for my daughter to plant and enjoy!

  7. This is a spectular plant, I was so impressed about it counteracting poison ivy.
    I like all the plants in the garden but I fined the different colored day lillies fun to look at.

  8. This sounds like a great plant to have--attracts hummingbirds and calms poison ivy. I could use both of those! My grandkids would love this.
    I don't know that I have a "fun" plant in my garden; my 5-year-old granddaughter, though, likes to traipse through the shade garden looking for baby toads.

  9. That is a pretty little flower on your funny plant the Jewelweed. My boys think the Balloon Flower is a funny plant because the flower pods look like miniature balloons before they open & if you squeeze them they will pop! Great post today Tina on a interesting plant I've never grown or seen.

  10. It's one of the last hummingbird flowers to bloom. The little guys really need these jewel weed blooms to make their fall migration. This was a great post.

  11. Good morning all!

    Skeeter, You just like to have fun!! That is so super too. I get the watering, no fun there! Great you got back so much money! I occasionally take back dead plants. My problem is remembering did I buy it from Home Depot or Lowes? Very good tip!

    Jillybean, Mosquito plant really works? I might have to get one for my patio as I do love the smell.

    Kanak, The trees and birds work for me!

    Gail, It might be because of the late freeze last year that it is so scarce. It darn near wiped mine out, only a few protected seedling survived. I noticed in the woods he is not as abundant either. But it will rebound. Glad you have it!

    Sophie, I am SURE it would grow in the woods by you. All kids and even Lexie's mom would love it!

    Dawn, Daylilies are so fun with all their bright colors. You must have lots of touch me nots in your woods.

    Rose, Look for these in the woods. They are fabulous and I am sure your grandkids will never forget them. Looking for toads is fun! There were a lot of them out last night due to the rain.

    Racquel, It is fun! Needs a bit of a wild area though so it can do its thing. I just love it! It should grow in your woods as it is native.

    Marnie, These are wonderful for the hummingbirds. I still have one or two around here and they are feeding big time. Glad you enjoyed this post.

  12. Good Morning All,
    Tina I don't have this plant but sounds like I need to get one for the boys. They would be fascinated. Boy, do I ever need to get the mosquito plant---several of them. From all that rain we had they are abundant--both sizes. It's awful & they haven't sprayed once the whole yr.
    I hope all have a very lovely day.

  13. Very neat plant and good post on it. I had 2 mosquito plants on my deck this year and the mosquitos were not too bad till last month and then they darn near carries us off.

  14. Whoops, I forgot to say but an glad you got some rain. How much did you get?

    Lola I also hope you have a good day, along with all our other neat blogging friends.

  15. Very neat. I had never seen this before.

  16. Very interesting little plant. I had never seen the blue before, it's a nice blue. And I didn't know that about the poison ivy. The ivy doesn't affect me, but my husband gets it if he looks in that direction.

  17. Hi, Tina--I've never heard of this plant, but it does sound fun--do those seeds it sends out germinate (is it invasive)? Alas, I'm having fed problems again--for some reason my blogroll isn't showing new posts, and I haven't done anything00haven't been NEAR Blotanical let alone messed with feeds. Sigh. Someday this will work--

  18. Lola, My pinecone ginger is about to bloom! I am so excited! The touch me nots are pretty cool.

    Mom, It is that Maine bird again:) I know where some touch me nots grow not far from your house. We got about 4 inches of rain! The ground is still kind of dry but it is a start. I planted some stuff today and it felt so good to be in the wet soil.

    Sarah, They grow wild around here. Just look for them in the woods.

    Cindy, I am like your husband, I get poison ivy easy. This is reputed to help, but if you have access to other means use them too. I hope the blue and orange cross pollinate. It will be fun next summer.

    Cosmo, Surprised to see you! Those darn feed problems. I will head over to your blog to check it out. Wonder what is up?? I hope you get it worked out. The touch me nots do spread but only by seeding, not runners. They are easily pulled or mowed down and once cut down will not return, unlike some invasives that just keep coming (read oak seedlings and pokeweed!) But I think in the right spot you just can't have enough.

  19. So cool, I see lots of jewl weed every were in the woods! I will admit though that I have never touched the seed pods before! I will give it a try some time! How cool!


  20. Zach, Never touched the seedpods?? OMG, the next time you see it do touch them and you will get a big kick! I promise. It always get the new and unexperienced with it. Thanks for dropping by!

  21. Tina don't forget to use the sticky moisture in the flower head to rinse your hair. See if it leaves a slight ginger order. Look out if Mr Fix-it likes the Oder of ginger. Hehehehe.

  22. Lola, I am going to try it out for sure if it gets big enough. I think it will as we are not due any freezes. Which is great. I like ginger!

    Cosmo, It doesn't look like you posted something new, did you?

  23. Tina, what a funny and useful plant! I’ll have to remember to look for it next time I get poison ivy. I very allergic to it. In England dock leaves grow by stinging nettles and work well as an antidote.

    I’m embarrassed to admit that kids have a lot fun with the dandelions in my pathetic lawn. I don’t mind the dandelions, just the ugly bare stalks. I dislike herbicides even more. The oddest thing growing in our yard are chicken of the woods mushrooms – tasty to cook, but they look weird. They grow naturally by oaks.

    Dawn has some nice leaves in the post down below. I’m heading north to the mountains later this month, but we’ll sadly miss the peak.

  24. Hi Tina, the seeds from Mexican Petunia (Ruella) also explode. I don't know about when you touch them, but the definitely explode when you water the plant and get moisture on the seed pods. The little seed projectiles can even sting a little on bare skine.

  25. That shade of blue! How luscious! I guess my most fun plant at the moment is the foxglove.

  26. They like my cattails the best, I think. Or the Magnolia pods.

    Since Touch me nots and poison ivy grow in the same place, you don't think if I planted touch me nots, I would attract poison ivy, do you? I'm just asking.......... : )

    I loved seeing those close ups.

  27. very cool plant Tina! I'd never heard of this one before. I grow lots of impatiens - doubles and singles. The singles have seed pods much like your touch me nots, and they pop like crazy. I get a bit obsessive deadheading them early in the year, but by now I'm done with that and they're popping all over the place! I guess I'm a bit of a kid at heart since I enjoy picking the pods and tossing them in the garden to hear them explode. I hadn't thought of them as fun plants, but I do have fun playing with them and listening to them explode on their own. Some do self seed during the season, but so far none have come back from seed the next year, so I keep planting them. Touch me nots might be fun to try too, especially if they come back from seed the following year.

  28. Sarah, I think dandelions are great fun! I remember these as kids. Now when I look back I am horrified at how many new dandelions I created by blowing the seeds. I am positive the touch me nots grow near that pond or in the woods close to you so you can find it easy. Now I remember those stinging nettles in Germany and did not know about the dock. Very interesting. Have fun in the mountains! Looks like leaves are turning fast. We are losing ours faster then they are turning.

    Aunt Debbi/Kurt's Mom, That is cool about ruella. I did not know. Bet it is fun but look out the bare skin!

    Brenda, Why is foxglove a fun plant? The fairies dance in it? Or the freckles? Interesting.

    Eve, Ah yes. The cat tails. Who can forget fluffing those stalks? Such fun. Hmmmm, if you plant you might attract poison ivy because I can tell you I have it here and I hate it. Maybe I should get rid of the touch me

    Garden Girl, Exactly! The bedding impatiens also have the exploding seedpods. It works in the exact same way but people don't usually notice these seedpods, maybe because they grow so low to the ground. Not sure. But it is the same. The impatiens capensis are the wild kind and taller. They can be found in any woods and I know they grow there because they grow in Maine. It is a fun plant glad you have fun with them too.

  29. Fascinating, Tina! Does TC know about their usefulness against poison ivy? I wish you could have taken a video. I would really love to see that seed popping in action, especially if you could surprise someone with it.

  30. Hi Walk2write, Not sure if TC knows or not about their usefulness. I am betting he does being the smart man that he is.

  31. Kathryn/plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.comOctober 9, 2008 at 6:15 PM

    This plant reminds me of some plant in AZ that at certain times of the year it explodes seeds at you if you even look cross eyed at it. Darn if I can remember what it even looked like! It was in my neighbor's yard.I just recall how it always made me laugh!

  32. Kathryn, Thanks for dropping by! Gotta love those plants that make you laugh and you have me intrigued now too about what type of plant it is in Arizona. Wonder what it was?