Impatiens and Dead Lawns

Q. This summer I planted three New Guniea Impatiens in pots and grew them in partial shade. They’re doing well. Will they survive the winter or should I bring them inside?

A. New Guniea Impatiens will not survive the winter months outside because of the cold. They can be grown indoors; however, your biggest challenge is to keep them blooming and prevent the growth from getting leggy. Both of these issues are related to the low light condition found in most homes. This may or may not be an issue, depending on your overall plan. If protecting them from the cold is your main objective, then it’s not a big deal. All you need to do is keep them watered. You’ll need to move them into a heated room so a garage is not suitable. They’ll grow more compactly in cooler rooms kept under seventy-five degrees. In late March, you move them outside, cut back the growth and feed them. I prefer Osmocote as you’ll only need to reapply the nutrients every four months but there are plenty of other excellent options. To keep them blooming indoors, you’ll need a location that receives at least four hour of indirect or direct sunlight. This can be challenging during the winter months. The Agro Sunlight from Hydro Farms is a grow light that can help resolve this problem. It’s available at many independent garden centers. New Guineas should survive outside as long as the nighttime temperatures stay above forty degrees but I’d moved them inside by Thanksgiving to be on the safe side. Ultimately, it’s a judgment call on your part. For me, it’s not worth all the trouble to overwinter them.

Q, My lawn is dead from the lack of water since I did not water it all summer. Is there anything I can do to help it come back this winter? It’s really crunchy and brown with lots bare spots.

Grass TextureA. Once a grass has turned brown from the lack of water, there isn’t a magic solution one can do to revive it other than to start over. Now, there are many seasonal grasses that turn brown or go dormant during the summer months but they still require some moisture. They’ll green up in the fall. Once a grass gets to the straw color and crunchy it’s past the revival point. Reseeding a lawn now is not an option as the grass seed germinates poorly with the short days and cool nights. You’ll need to wait until next March. Another option is to replant with a water-wise lawn substitute in the spring. The nursery professional at your favorite garden center can suggest some ornamental plants. The EBMUD book, Plants for Summer Dry Climates, is a fabulous resource of water-wise, attractive plants with great pictures. Keep in mind, they will require watering during the summer months but don’t require as much as a lawn and less when established. It’s not advisable to do nothing as your property value will suffer. One of the lessons learned from previous droughts is the cost to replace a lawn, trees and shrubs is not off-set from not watering your plants.

Buzz Bertolero is Executive Vice President of Navlet’s Garden Centers and a California Certified Nursery Professional. His web address is and you can send questions by email at or to 360 Civic Drive Ste. ‘D’, Pleasant Hill, Calif. 94523 and on Facebook at