The Problem with Impatiens

By Alexandra Clarke, Walsh Jesuit High School Senior Experience Student

Remember Downy Mildew? The disease that crippled impatiens last year? Well it is still prevalent this year.

Downy Mildew is a selective strain that only affects impatiens “walleriana”, traditional impatiens, and double impatiens. New Guinea Impatiens and Sunpatiens are not susceptible to this disease. This is quite the disappointment for all of the shade gardeners out there. This disease is carried through both water and air born spores that travel through water droplets in the air. Colder temperatures will not kill the spores, and it is currently not cost effective to treat in the landscape. Downy Mildew was first seen in Akron in August of last year after a few rainy days. It first became problematic in Europe before spreading to both coasts of the United States.

Symptoms of Downy Mildew: 

  • White to gray fuzz on the undersides of leaves
  • Yellowish curled leaves that defoliate
  • Stems collapseimg_1203

The disease has advanced so much in this community it is not a question of if your impatiens are going to get it, but when. It is recommended not to plant impatiens for a period of years unless researchers find a solution.


There are Alternatives for Shade Gardeners!

New Guinea Impatiens and SunPatiens are a colorful option for beds or containers in partial shade. Begonias in shades of red, pink or white are easy to grow and bloom all summer. When looking for flowers for containers there are many varieties of begonias including Reiger Begonias with rose form flowers and Dragon Wing Begonias in shades of red and pink. New begonias with larger leaves, taller and bigger flowers called ‘Big BronzeLeaf Rose or Big Green Leaf Red. Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ with an airy white flower is a great filler. The colorful foliage of caladiums and coleus are another alternative for the shade garden!


New Guinea Impatiens

New Guinea Impatiens





Dragon Wing Begonia










Make sure to check out these and other shade alternatives for your garden this summer! Don’t let Downy Mildew affect you!