Impatiens Blight Woes

March 12, 2014 – 11:26 pm

We all love annual Impatiens for their carefree nature, quickly spreading habit and burst of color that they add to our shade gardens. Impatiens season is almost upon us and we have received many questions about the blight that is affecting Impatiens walleriana or bedding impatiens. We first encountered the dreaded downy mildew last year when customers began bringing us samples of their dying Impatiens.

Symptoms of downy mildew start with light stippling and yellowing of the leaves. The leaves will begin to droop, as if they need more water, and when you check the undersides of the leaves you will notice the white, downy growth of spores. As the disease progresses, the leaves will turn completely yellow and drop, leaving just the bare stems. The entire plant will eventually collapse, what a sad sight! Many of us saw the drooping leaves as a signal to water more, which only makes matters worse, since downy mildew thrives in moist conditions.

Downy mildew is a fungal-like pathogen which is spread through the release of spores. These spores can turn up in the greenhouse from infected transplants or can blow in from neighboring yards. Once your plants are infected, the spores will travel quickly through plantings via splashing water. Downy mildew will overwinter in infected impatiens debris, so it is very important that you clean your beds…especially if you experienced the symptoms last year. There is very little that you can do to prevent downy mildew and once your plants are infected, there is no reversing the progress of the disease. to commercially available products. Diseased plants should be removed and disposed of in a plastic bag, do not put them in your compost pile.

What are homeowners to do? We are recommending to refrain from planting bedding impatiens this year. Luckily the disease is specific to only Impatiens walleriana species and wild impatiens may be affected, like Jewelweed (which is a whole other concern for migrating butterflies and birds which depend on its nectar). Our suppliers will only be growing a limited number of flats this year, so they will also be very hard to come by.

Other Options for the Shade Garden:

New Guinea Impatiens offer a mounding habit, deep green to burgundy foliage and bright flowers similar to bedding impatiens.

Begonias come in a multitude of shapes and colors. Bedding or wax begonias are an inexpensive way to fill your shade beds. Dragon wing, Bonfire or Rex begonias offer interesting foliage and flower combinations for a little excitement in the shade.

Coleus are available in so many striking color combinations these days! Try the new Under the Sea varieties for an ocean of coral reef texture and gorgeous color.

Torenia (foreground) also called monkey or clown flower, provides the shade garden with a carpet of flowers in varying colors from yellow to purple to blue.

Caladium provide the shade garden with a burst of color, patterns and texture with a nice upright and mounding habit.

IMPATIENS thumb

Source: primexgardencenter.com


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Flowers in a little to no sunlight area, color

We have a front flower bed that is about 35 ft x 2 ft on the north side of our home. just recently, after reading the western garden book, decided to do some landscaping and put in a variety of plants that include Canna's, New Zeland Flax, Sage mint, and added some color like Begonias & impatiens and some more. The issue is during summer, we get get a combined 3 to 4 hrs(morning and late after noon) of sun light in the area. Now, it is almost down to 2 hrs, and not every plant is getting enough sunlight. We are in zone 24 and wonder how these plants would do in fall and winter. In addition, wanted to put in some more color that are not potentially poisonous (lantan's are out of question)


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