Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fairwell to Impatiens?

Will this plant, Impatiens walleriana (impatiens), soon be a plant of the past?

Impatiens were a go-to plant for me for many, many years. My small urban home lot has a lot of shade. I planted impatiens by my front door, on the side of my house, in my back yard.  They provided reliable color in shades of red, white, lavender and salmon.

Impatiens came in single and double flowered varieties - the double flowers looked a lot like roses.  They needed almost no care.  They made nice mounds and also looked great in baskets and containers.  Groundhogs, the bane of my property, didn't touch them. Neither did anything else.

If I got bored, I would grow New Guinea Impatiens, which are a different species, but I don't really like them that much.  I don't know why.  I have a basket of them hanging from my front porch nearly every year.  But they never grabbed my heart the way the regular impatiens did.

Then, my impatiens started dying on me, which is when they broke my heart.

In 2012, my impatiens died, practically overnight.   I came home one day to find nothing but green sticks with yellowing, dropping leaves. They were thriving when I left for work.  They were so stripped, in fact, I thought that an animal had feasted on them.

That winter, a local gardening expert, Kathy Purdy, warned me about a downy mildew that was attacking impatiens.  I had some impatiens (in fact, the plant above was one of them) rooted inside my house.  She recommended that I not plant it outside come spring.

In 2013, I bought impatiens from Burpees, mail order.  They lasted a couple of months.  Then, they died, every last one of them, even ones I had in hanging baskets.  The hanging basket plants lasted longer, but into the void they finally went.

Now what?
This year, I did not buy any impatiens.  No, I take that back.  I did make a basket with New Guinea impatiens for the front of my house.  But I have been depending on other plants to fill the void - for example, begonias.

I miss my impatiens.

I wonder if I will ever be able to grow them again.

If not, I will have to (technical gardening term), suck it up, and find a replacement.
An impatien alternative?

Meantime, I'm looking for replacements that make my heart sing.  I'll blog more about my effortsanother time, once I know how they do for me.


  1. Beautiful flowers and such vibrant and pretty colours.

  2. They are so pretty! My dad used to grow impatiens in our backyard, so they will always be a nostalgic flower for me :)

  3. I love the color pink one. I have like 5 different flowers on my garden.

  4. Is there anything thing you can use to defend the plant? Any food or preen that can help prevent this?

  5. I love the color pink! I have like 5 different flowers at my garden, hoping to bloom it this summer

  6. These spreading plant diseases are a mystery. Last year something polished off my prize potted bay tree. I'd paid a fortune for it when I was working and had spare cash. I can never replace it. I guess we just have to move on--adapt and change. That's what life's all about. But I still miss my bay tree, just as I'm sure you miss your impatiens.

  7. I'd love to know how plant diseases spread!
    -Very odd indeed!
    Your plants are amazing!

  8. Wow--nothing ate your impatiens? I never dared plant them anywhere but in hanging baskets on my porch or containers right next to the front door! The deer, bunnies, and wood chucks all love them here!

    But yes, I also hope that this is not the end of the impatiens. I did have a successful basketful last year, all bought at local nurseries. There aren't as many around as there used to be, though. I like the New Guineas paired with the big sun-tolerant coleuses, but I find they are not as easy as the normal old impatiens.

    Begonias can be used in place of impatiens, and will tolerate more sun, I think, than impatiens. Also, for me, they don't get grazed upon! However, I just don't like them nearly as well.


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