Friday, January 25, 2019

Busy Lizzie or Bust? Should I Plant Impatiens in 2019?

Is it safe to plant impatiens this year? 

Appearances can be misleading.  If nursery shelves are any indication, then impatiens walleriana seem to be a go this year.  Downy mildew has now plagued this staple of the shade garden for at least a half dozen years.  Sadly, the disease  shows no signs of letting up.

Yet it's tough to pass up those lovely flats of pinks and salmons each spring.  But robust, healthy looking plants may whither before season's end, leaving the garden barren when it should have been poppin'. 

Cautious gardeners following expert advice held back from planting colorful  bizzies for the recommended three years--only to find that the disease had either remained in the soil or the dastardly spores had hitchhiked in on new purchases.  

Thus, in 2019, proceed with caution.  At the shop, inspect the undersides of baby plants for spots or dots.  Plants in drier areas or locations which did not host infected plants in prior years.  Impatiens mildew is a water mold. Irrigate in the morning to avoid moisture clinging to leaves overnight.  

Give it a cautious go if you must, and hope for the best. 

Begonia Shade Border
Impatiens are tropical natives.  The tiny seeds are difficult, but not impossible to start.  The moist environs of a greenhouse makes it a good host for killer spores.

Downy mildew only affects one breed, impatiens walleriana

Plan B calls for substitution of colorful alternatives:

Experiment or adapt.  Versatility is the mainstay of gardening.  

Made for the Shade:

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Best Shade Annuals


Annuals are one season showstoppers.

Typically native to warmer climates south of zone eight, annuals flourish in the summer months then die back after the fall frost.

Unlike perennials, which survive the winter months reappearing in late spring, annuals quickly establish, then bloom until frost.

New Guinea Impatiens are disease free
The majority of mass produced annuals require full to partial sunlight. 

Choices are  limited for shade gardeners craving some color, but blooms that thrive in full to partial shade are readily available.

1.  Impatiens:  Fabulous, but risky.  The moldy blight overwinters and could take three to five years before it clears out.  Replanting risks a return to the starting block.  If planting make sure the area is well drained.

2.   Begonia:  Does well in dappled shade.  More disease resistant.  Chose a variety with green leaves
as burgundy and brown stems don't show as well. White pops in the shade.  Pink and red blooms are smaller and do not show as well.  In the fall begonia become a mounding beauty, with a spectacular show before the cold sets in.  Die back in late fall is quick.  Removal is easy as roots are minimal.

2.  Coleus.  Fast becoming a favorite, coleus comes in a plethora of beautiful jewel tones.  Great for the border.

3.  Minimulus/Monkey Flower:  The white blooms are small, ringed in soft purples and pinks and resemble tiny monkey faces.    These rascals require little pruning. 

4.  Pansies:   Deep, stunning and vibrant colors, these are hardy annuals.  Die back occurs during the
hottest summer months.  Cut back and move to a shady location for a second bloom in the fall.  Pansies and violas often survive to spring if sheltered or following a mild winter.

Group in drifts or combinations throughout the yard or in pots.

There's a peacefulness in the shade garden that cannot be measured by the sun.

In early spring, fall-planted bubs will naturalize and flourish before trees bloom.

Observing a shaded garden from a sunny outpost, it appears monotonous.  Not much color is needed, but adding a bit beckons the garden visitor to the coolness under the canopy.

Somewhat Shady:

Best Shade Perennials

Turtlehead and other Fall Bloomers