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Gardeners Beware, Popular Flower Plant Doomed Because of Mold

Written by Wendy L  |  08. May 2013

Impatiens, a popular Spring time flower that’s colorful, affordable and requires low maintenance for many home gardeners is at risk of a mold known as downey mildew.

Many nurseries on Long Island will not have impatiens on their racks this year, and if they do – like at Hicks Nursery in Westbury – gardeners need to be warned to buy at their own risk.

Impatiens infected by downey mildew causes tiny spots and yellowing of the leaves. This leads to a garden complete with no flowers but the remaining stems of the plant. While the condition will not affect other types of flowers in the same garden, it can lead to spores lingering in the soil and impacting future impatiens planted for up to two to three years.

Impatiens may continue to look healthy at nurseries because of the use of pesticide available only to commercial growers to cure downey mildew, but once treatment is discontinued, the flower plant will soon wither and die.

Many local gardeners experienced the early death of impatiens last year as well.

Downey mildew has been spreading in the U.S. for the past few years. Wind can carry the fungal spores up to three miles. It’s also more prone to spread with humid weather.

Nurseries have been recommending alternative selections like begonias or New Guinea impatiens for gardeners this season.

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