It's not often that you find a problem in your garden (except for noshing deer), that you learn you can do absolutely nothing about. Often, a visit to the Internet will provide many suggestions to give us hope that we can fix a problem.
Not so with the recent losses of impatiens, that favorite plant that comes in luscious colors and is so easy to grow.
I noticed a week or so ago that the impatiens on my deck seemed to be dying off. I decided that they had fallen prey to some bugs who were eating the plants. I bought a "green" spray for them, doused the leaves, but then found out after more research that the plants were infected with what's being called impatiens downy mildew disease and would melt away.
And there was not a thing I could do about it.
According to an article in the New York Times: The disease is a mold (Plasmopara obducens) that thrives in cool, damp conditions and first appears as a white, downy coating of spores on the undersides of leaves, so it’s easy to miss. By the time gardeners notice the flowers drooping, it’s too late to do anything.
What a loss. I had six pots of the multi-colored flowers between my deck and porch (because of those noshing deer as mentioned above). As you can see from the photos, the plants have literally melted away, not even leaving much mess behind.
Flower growers are scrambling to find replacement plants for the impatiens so that next spring there will be some alternatives. Begonias are getting the most interest as a replacement, as well as coleus and ornamental grasses and New Guinea impatiens, which don't seem to be susceptible to the mildew disease.
But so far, there are no plants that can replace the range of color impatiens offered the home gardener. I suppose we will have to get more creative in our annual plantings. The good news is we have the fall and winter to figure out how.
For more information, check out these links: