“What happened to my impatiens?”

The summer of 2012 will be known as the end of impatiens on Long Island — at mildew-300Bleast for a few years at best. As the airborne disease of “Downy Mildew” passed over our gardens, it decimated Long Island’s impatiens within a couple weeks. As homeowners stood in bewilderment as their beautiful gardens were diminished, they tried to find out what happened. Some blamed their spouses for watering too much or too little, some blamed their lawn maintenance service for “blowing the leaves” right off their flowers, some blamed their house sitters and swore never to go on vacation again, and some didn’t know who to blame. It was no one’s fault. It was just mother nature exercising her right to throw in these diseases once in awhile to keep us on our toes. Maybe we were getting too comfortable with the ease of impatiens. Well, that’s no longer the case. As this airborne disease has hit Long Island in 2012, it is time to find alternatives.

Your garden for 2013 will be even more beautiful with new varieties of other old time favorites that are very reliable, as well as magnificent. There are many choices of New Guinea Impatiens that are completely not affected by Downy Mildew. They can be planted in the same areas where you once planted your impatiens. And don’t think that you need only flowers to add color to your garden, the development of Coleus varieties has resulted in spectacular foliage that brings your garden to life. Another favorite of mine is begonias as they do wonderfully in sun or shade. They are very low maintenance and keep blooming until a hard frost — much longer than the regular impatiens. If you have lots of sun, the vinca flower has a petal formation that is practically identical to the impatiens, but can withstand much more drought. No need for overwatering Vincas.

As gardeners, we may have experienced a setback in our garden designs for 2012. But as gardeners, we know that our gardens are never stagnant. They are always ever-changing and growing — like we all should be. We are not discouraged by this disease. But more importantly, we hope that our customers and all gardeners are not discouraged. At Albert H. Schmitt Family Farms, we were known for having the best selection of impatiens on Long Island. Now, we will now be known for having the best alternative choices for impatiens on Long Island. We are excited for Spring 2013 as we plan our greenhouse planting schedule. Our customers will be pleasantly surprised of what awaits them beyond impatiens.

Click here: http://ccesuffolk.org/assets/Floriculture/DM-HomeGarden-Sept2012.pdf

Click here to read more on impatiens from Jessica Damiano at Newsday  (must subscribe to Newsday to be able to view full online article)

Another Impatiens Article by Jessica Damiano for Newsday (must subscribe to Newsday to be able to view full online article)