So, it is with regret that we announce that Valley View Farms will not grow or sell Impatiens walleriana in 2013. The impatiens in the United States have been affected with a disease called Downey Mildew. While impatiens has been our number one seller in our plant department for years, we are not comfortable selling a plant that had severe problems in our customers' gardens last year. We will be offering alternatives and plenty of advice on what to plant in shade. We urge you to trust us and take some time from planting what we call 'regular' impatiens, until we are once again sure that the plant is free of disease.
We are sure that there are questions. We will answer some that have been asked already this season.
My impatiens did have issues last year. How do I know that it was Downey Mildew?
Here are some before and after photos of impatiens in beds affected by the disease.
It really took off when we had some cool, wet nights in late spring and early summer. Areas impacted the hardest were in deep shade, planted densely in low spots. We visited some of our customers' gardens in midsummer to view their gardens. One of them had been planted with 300 plants, only to have them die in mid-summer.
Impatiens planted in containers seemed to hold out a little longer but most had succombed to the disease eventually.
Is there a way to prevent Downey Mildew from infectng plants? I hate to give up on impatiens.
Not really. There is a spray available to growers that will prevent the disease for a few weeks. The chemical is not available to consumers, so any additional prevention is tough.
I have noticed that many shopping centers, malls and other corporate accounts use impatiens. Will they have to switch to alternative plants as well?
Yes. We've spoken to some of the large landscape companies. They will be planting alternate crops like begonias, caladiums and New Guinea impatiens in 2013.
Okay, so what else will work in my garden?
There are scores of alternative plants. In a way, having this challenge will get many gardeners to experiment with some new things. As one of our friends with Ball Seed, the largest horticultural company in the world, said, "Let's add some drama to the shade garden." The sky's the limit on other plants to consider for shade.
Our greenhouse staff visits regional trial gardens to view and evaluate plants that would do well in gardens in our area. Pictured below are pots of New Guinea Impatiens growing in shade. They were beautiful!
And, here are some other plants that will do well in part-shade to shady areas.
Begonia Baby Wing
Begonia Dragon Wing
Wax leaf Begonias
Begonia heimalis ---VVF grows over 10 colors!
Caladium---7 varieties grown by VVF, bulbs offered through our garden shop
Coleus Wizard Series
Coleus Sunloving (They like shade too!)
Dichondra Silver Falls
New Guinea Impatiens
Lots of other annuals will do well with 4 or more hours of sun. Allow our staff to show you the many choices available for your gardens and potted plants.
And, our perennial sales area is also a great place to find plenty of foliage and color for shade. Take a look at hostas, ferns,
heucheras, hellebores, dicentra, brunnera, mertensias, astilbes and an entire aisle dedicated to shade perennials.
Tropical plants can add real drama to the garden as well. Look for shade-grown hibiscus, mandevilla, peace lilies, palm trees, ferns, crotons, and a all sorts of other plants to add to containers and garden beds.
We know that impatiens have been our go-to shade plant for years. We also know that, as a company, you've come to trust us. We are united with you to find alternatives to impatiens for shady gardens. We hope to see impatiens back in a few years, but we think that taking some time off from our favorite annual might be the best way to fight Impatiens Downey Mildew.
Maybe, in a few years, our grower, John, will be growing impatiens again for Valley View Farms and our gardening customers.