Why you should NOT be planting Impatiens this year…

April 15, 2013

In case no one has told you, you shoult not be planting standard Impatiens this year...even if you find them at a garden center or, heaven forbid a big box store. Why? Because there's a devastating fungal disease that has been a problem globally  for Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) for the past several years and it's now got a strong foothold in The U.S. Downy mildew, or Impatiens downy mildew has decimated this shade garden favorite...and there's no cure. The more folks keep planting them right now, the faster the problem will progress.

What to look for? First, look for stunted growth, pale light green leaves, leaf and flower drop and then eventual stem collapse. The disease spreads quickly so infected plants must be removed and distroyed. Don't compost these plants as you'll most likely not be able to destroy the pathogen in home compost. Also, the organism produces spores that can persist in the soil...so if you have it this year, you should not be planting Impatiens in the same bed next year.

Last year, suppliers were still stating they felt they could produce a clean supply, but honestly the disease just has too strong a foothold on the species at this point. It's already been spotted in Texas.

Is this a bummer? Yep. BUT, there are a ton of other beautiful plants you can use in your shady garden. Currently, the disease does not effect New Guinea Impatiens or SunPatiens. Personally,  I'll be happy to see Dallasites be forced to try something new!

New guinea comboIf you have shade and needs some color, give some of these shade performers a try:

• Lemon Lollipop
• Coleus
• Crossandra
• Angel and Rex Begonias
• Farfugium
• Browallia
• Jatropha
• Abutilon
• Lamium
• Heuchera
• Brunfelsia
• New Guinea Impatiens
• SunPatiens
• Ferns
• Hellebore
• Tiarella
• Upright Fuchsia
• "indoor" Tropicals are great for shade containers

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