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Impatiens for Shade Requires Patience and New Varieties

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Impatiens for Shade Requires Patience and New Varieties

For many years impatiens, a.k.a. bizzy Lizzy (Impatiens walleriana), has been the annual of choice for the shade garden. All of that changed several years ago when the downy mildew of impatiens disease devastated this popular annual.

Initially, only noticed in production greenhouses, the disease has since been found in commercial landscape plantings and could affect the home gardener as well.  Control of the disease is difficult at best and most fungicides offer protection rather than eradication. In purchasing your bedding plants in the past few years, you may have noticed little if any availably of the garden impatiens gardeners counted on for many years.

So what is a person to do if they still want impatiens in the shade? Patience for impatiens can pay off as several varieties of impatiens are available that are resistant to the downy mildew disease. The New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawerki ) group is disease resistant but it does not like full sun or a lot of shade. A new hybrid group of New Guinea impatiens, however, called SunPatiens™ feature the same disease resistance and are more versatile. This series features compact, spreading or vigorous habit plants that thrive in full sun or lots of shade.

Another alternative with great disease resistance and shade tolerance that offers great promise as a replacement for I. walleriana, are the Bounce™ hybrids including Bounce™ Interspecific Impatiens  and the Big Bounce™ Interspecific Impatiens.

While the SunPatiens™ have been available for a number of years, the Bounce™ impatiens were introduced in local garden centers this spring. The picture above features a planting with both series represented. The white variety is Bounce™ White, while the orange and lilac are SunPatiens™ Compact Electric Orange and Compact Lilac.

This planting is in the shade most of the day, receiving less than 1 hour of sunlight per day (when the sun actually has been shining this year). Considering this year’s growing conditions of heavy, almost consistent rain and cloudy weather to date, the performance of both of these varieties seems commendable.

One drawback for a mass planting of these new varieties may be the cost. Since these impatiens are asexually propagated from cuttings, the price per plant is much higher than the regular garden impatiens which were produced from seed.

Why not try some new downy mildew resistant impatiens for that shady spot in your garden or planter? You may be pleasantly surprised.

Kemper Center for Home Gardening

| Categories: Summer | Tags: impatiens, downy mildew, shade | View Count: (2730) | Return
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