With their cheerful faces and versatility, impatiens dot landscapes across the South, bringing colorful ground cover, lush borders, and bright bursts of pigment to gardens. But in recent years, there’s been a dark spot on this flower: downy mildew.

Impatiens and Downy Mildew

impatiensDowny mildew is a fungal disease that affects most varieties of impatiens, particularly the common Busy Lizzy. Although downy mildew cannot spread spores to other species, they can wreak havoc on garden impatiens, double impatiens, mini impatiens, and a variety of hybrid plants. First detected in the U.S. in 2012, the disease has spread across Florida, California, and the northeast region of the United States. Some nurseries sell infected impatiens, which gardeners carry home to unwittingly infect their gardens. Other impatiens develop the disease when they’re already established. So what can gardeners do?

  • Don’t buy infected plants
  • Ask the folks at Autumn Hill Nursery whether your garden may be at risk
  • Keep an eye out for signs of infected plants: yellow stippling on the leaves, wilting or drooping of lower leaves, and a dusty white film on the underside of leaves
  • Remove and dispose of infected impatiens immediately
  • Buy disease-resistant impatien varieties

Disease-Resistant Impatiens

If you can’t bear to give up your impatiens this spring, there’s hope. Some varieties of impatiens are nearly immune to downy mildew. New Guinea impatiens make a showy summer bloom, and they’re almost entirely resistant to downy mildew in the garden. Bounce impatiens and Sun impatiens are also disease-resistant, allowing gardeners to restore their beloved bedding plants to the Southern garden.

Visit Autumn Hill Nursery to buy mildew-resistant impatiens or learn how to get rid of downy mildew.


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