Impatiens are one of the most popular bedding plants across the nation, and Florida is no exception. These cheerful, easy-to-grow annuals have bright red, orange, pink, or white flowers that attract butterflies.
In South Florida, plant your impatiens in the fall to enjoy winter and spring color. North Florida gardeners should plant in the spring, after the last frost.
Impatiens need moist, well-drained soil and at least part shade. Direct sun can be too intense for most varieties, although New Guinea impatiens thrive in sun.
They look great when planted en masse, and can also be used in containers, hanging baskets, and borders. Keep in mind that impatiens spread and self-seed, so give them plenty of room to grow. When your impatiens get tired at the end of the season, you can replace them with new bedding plants.
Downy Mildew on Impatiens
Impatiens in Florida are facing a new foe. Downy mildew disease has been wiping out this popular bedding plant in nurseries and neighborhoods in South Florida.
Early symptoms include yellowish or speckled leaves that may curl downward. As the disease progresses, the undersides of the leaves develop a white, downy-looking coating, and they later fall off. Downy mildew affects most impatiens sold in garden centers, though New Guinea impatiens and SunPatiens® are not as affected.
Prevention is the only effective management strategy, so look for disease-free plants if you’re intent on using impatiens. The disease is mainly a problem in cool, damp conditions, so with any luck, South Florida's warmer temperatures may put the problem on hold.
Also on Gardening Solutions
- Pest Alert: Downy Mildew of Impatiens walleriana caused by Plasmopara obducens--Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
- Saving Impatiens--GrowerTalks
- SunPatiens® Showing No Signs of Downy Mildew--Greenhouse Grower