Monday, April 15, 2013

Garden impatiens infected with downy mildew

Photo credit: Erik Runkle, Michigan State University
New Guinea Impatiens are resistant to downy mildew.
Garden impatiens, the popular and versatile annual flower, was infected with downy mildew, last year.
Greenhouse operators are offering alternatives to gardeners and landscapers this year. The New Guinea Impatiens and the Japanese hybrid SunPatiens are resistant varieties. The Impatiens Downy Mildew is a fungus-like pathogen that only affects garden impatiens (walleriana) plants.
The fungus causes leaf yellowing, followed by the leaf curling and falling off. It is characterized  by a white fuzzy coating on the underside of leaves. It is not the same downy mildew that affects vegetables or other ornamental plants, according to the Michigan State University Department of Horticulture.
The downy mildew can overwinter in the soil, so landscapers and gardeners are advised not to replant in the same area, or to pick other varieties, such as the New Guinea Impatiens, which have larger flowers and leaves than garden impatiens but don’t grow as quickly. As an alternative, the MSU Horticulture department advises planting other flower species such as Begonias, Caladiums, Lobelia and Salvia.
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