Alternatives to Garden Impatiens

Via the Floriculture Specialists of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County

Since garden impatiens, Impatiens walleriana, have been severely impacted by a new downy mildew disease (and will likely continue to be impacted in future years), growers, landscapers, and homeowners are seeking

alternatives to this ubiquitous garden plant. Impatiens have been a reliable garden plant for many years due to their color choice, growth habit, price point, and shade tolerance. While it might seem challenging to find plants that will be a suitable replacement, there are many great plant selections that are viable substitutions. The tables below list some options for shade tolerant plants, along with information on crop time and garden size. Don’t focus on the negative… use this opportunity to grow and promote different and exciting plants!

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−It’s important to remember and to communicate that New Guinea impatiens are NOT susceptible to impatiens downy mildew.

−It is sometimes assumed by some that New Guinea impatiens is a sun plant. Yes, New Guinea impatiens perform better than garden impatiens in the sun, but New Guinea impatiens generally perform equally as well or better in the shade.

−Also consider hardy plants such as ajuga, heuchera, lamium, lysimachia, as well as various grass and grass-like plants.

−Don’t plant shade plants in the sun! For sunny sites recommend annual vinca, angelonia, petunia, geranium, marigold, zinnia, celosia, pentas, gazania, portulaca, and so on!