Friday, March 27, 2015

Impatiens 2015 -- Balsam Blight Update

Is it safe to plant impatiens or balsam in 2015? Are busy lizzies disease free this year? Are touch-me-nots still untouchable? 

It seems the moratorium should nearly be over.  The blight was expected to remain viable for at least three years, so some experimental plantings might prove benign in drier beds.  It would be prudent to plant in limited quantities to avoid re-infection.

Impatiens downy mildew likely began not in the home garden, but the greenhouse.  Still, once the affliction traveled home in flats, spores may have spread to the soil, then overwintered.

Consider the local climate.  Arid or moderate climates are a safer bet.  In areas like the Midwest, heavy snows and wet summers have caused all sorts of molds and spores to thrive.

Purchase flats from an established nursery even if it costs a
In 2017 Impatiens are still  not a "sure bet."
few dollars more.  Most garden sales outlets will guarantee or reimburse within a reasonable timeframe.  If the local flower shop isn't carrying busy lizzies yet, then rely on their research. 

Healthy impatiens are reliable, powerful in color, thrive in the shade and need no pinching back or tending.  Their presence has been missed in the
yard, but their absence caused shade gardeners to experiment with plants like begonia, coleus,
pansies, and new guineas. 

Diversity in nature minimizes the sweeping effects of disease and blight.

Whether or not the local experts have issued an "all clear" to the use of annual impatiens, a moderate mix with fellow shade lovers is best. 

This year there are two new mildew resistant strains, Bounce Pink Flame and SunPatiens Spreading Shell Pink.  Grown from cuttings rather than seeds, these youngsters were presumably bred in response to the downy blight. 

Postscript:  Impatiens downy mildew is still present.  In late summer and early fall of 2015 impatiens a/k/a bizzie lizzies again began to deteriorate after planting.  Sorry to report that impatiens are just not healthy enough to survive the duration of the season.  They're not recommended for the foreseeable future.  
2016 Impatiens Update ~~ The Blight is Back

More Articles of Interest:

Begonias are the New Impatiens

Coleus Revisited