Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Well, yes, impatient but probably not going to buy or plant any impatiens this year and here's why. This favorite of all shade annuals has been hit by a serious blight of downy mildew that's infecting and wiping out whole plantings. The Palm Beach Post reports on one wholesale grower that had to destroy 150,000 plants, and residential communities that spent thousands on mass plantings, had to rip out and replant with something else.
The downy mildew shows first on the underside of the leaves and has a powdery white appearance. Apparently New Guinea impatiens are not susceptible. I really don't know how far north it will spread, but nurseries here often buy starter plants from Florida and my spring budgets don't allow for a second planting. County extension agents in universities around the country recognize a serious problem.Long island and Upstate NY are two of the many places cited as having infections.
But whether you usually plant a whole tree pit with impatiens or only use a few , as in the planters above, a change might be in order. I plan to stick to one of three main choices.
Begonias, in containers...

or in a shady garden with coleus and grasses...
coleus in gold, orange and chartreuse shades...

maybe with a splash of red as here at Fuller gardens, NH

or pinks and purples that I planted at the base of a formal ivy tower
or big-leafed or small caladium in tree pits
by themselves or with coleus and Persian shield, with a little ivy thrown in...

caladium where the pot gives a color boost...
or caladium with rex begonias and coleus. Enough color for you?.
No spraying for me, even if organic: too cheap and lazy.
The symptoms of downy mildew on impatiens are : yellowed and pale green foliage, downward curling leaves, small buds that fail to grow, eventually leaves dropping leaving stems bare. ugh.


Geraldine said...

what a feast for the eyes! wow.

Ellen Zachos said...

I depend on the noble impatiens; it will be hard to replace.
Thanks for the suggestions.

Garden Glamour said...

Thank you for the news. This is too sad and will surely affect the industry and the homeowner. Good side is window open to seek new choices.

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