Why have my impatiens been a disaster this year?


In the last few years, the commonly grown impatiens species (Impatiens walleriana) has frequently become infected with impatiens downy mildew (a fungus, Pasmopara obducens). This is a very serious disease. When a plant has become infected it is impossible to cure the problem.

Symptoms include stunted growth, off-color, light green leaves, flower drop, and eventually stem collapse. Infected plants should be removed immediately, before they infect the remaining impatiens.

Nurseries are trying to screen out infected plants, but it is probably best to avoid planting impatiens for the time being. Note that it is only I. walleriana that is susceptible to the fungus. Other impatiens such as New Guinea impatiens (I. hawkeri) and SunPatiens® are not affected. As these varieties are rather expensive, gardeners may want to consider other shade-tolerant species such as begonias, coleus, torenia, caladium etc.

See also: Is it safe to plant impatiens this year (2023)?


For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service


  • Last Updated Nov 20, 2023
  • Views 123
  • Answered By Anita Finkle

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