59January 9, 2013

Many of you who have gardened in the last few years are familiar with a plant disease called Powdery Mildew. This disease causes a white powder to form on the leaves of the plant. If you grew squashes or roses, you probably saw it on your plants. There is another one of the mildews that you will need to be aware of if you plant impatiens in your flowerbeds.

Downy Mildew is a disease that has been around for years. It has not shown up very often in gardens. In the last year, a particular strain of Downy mildew has attacked impatiens. When it infects impatiens, it causes discoloration of the leaves and ultimately it causes the leaves to fall off. Ultimately, you wind up with just stems of the impatiens. There are sprays that you can use, but they are not effective unless you

Diligently apply them all season. Even then, the disease may start and once it starts, it will decimate the plants.

The reason I am telling you this is that many of the growers are going to drastically cut back on the number of impatiens that they will be growing in 2013. Some growers have decided to stop growing regular impatiens. The reason is economics. If they need to continually spray the plants while they are growing the plants, then any profit they would make from growing the plants is used up by the cost of the fungicide and the cost of its application.

Your first thought may be to make sure to get your impatiens early before the supply runs out. On the surface this may seem like a good idea, but then you will have to do the fungicide treatments of the plants to possibly no avail. It is probably a better idea to think about planting some other shade loving plants until there is an effective way to control this disease.

First off, let me say that this disease does not bother New Guinea Impatiens and Sunpatiens. These plants will grow in partial shade but not the deep shade that you regularly associate with areas that you grow the common impatiens.

You do have choices of plants that you can substitute for impatiens in your gardens. You can plant begonias. Begonias come in many varieties. Some have smaller flowers and some have larger flowers. There are even varieties that are grown for their very colorful and ornate leaves. There are caladiums. Caladiums are a bulb that produces very colorful leaves. There is a plant called Torenia. These produce a very colorful flower. There is lobelia and several other plants that will do well in the shade.

The reason I bring this up now is that you need to decide what you are going to do this spring if you have planted impatiens in the past. You have time to do some research online to find plants that you will like to have in your garden this spring.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week

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