Notes from the Garden: Losing Impatients

Beware of Impatients Downy mildew. Downy mildew is a destructive foliar disease of Impatients. The disease makes the leaves and flowers drop, resulting in bare stems with only a few tiny yellow leaves remaining. This symptom is easily noticeable, so please do not blame the deer or rabbits at this time. Also, don’t insist in fertilizing them, because unfortunately there is no treatment for Downy mildew yet.

There are some alternatives or replacement flowers for planted areas with impatients. In deep shade, Begonias or Coleus or a combination of both together can be planted. Begonias and Coleus come in different colors and varieties. Both plants develop very well covering the ground with color until late fall. There are a lot more to choose for partial shade or sunny garden areas. If the look of Impatients is desired, New Guinea Impatients which don’t carry the Downy disease and are very hardy, will be the perfect substitute.

New Guinea Impatients perform extremely well with bold blooms in different shades of light and bright colors. In most of the seasons, this flower will stay alive enchanting the gardens even after a couple of hard frosts.

Companion planting, perennials and annuals, is also another idea that can be introduced to the garden to fill areas that were planted with only impatients before. Many plants have natural substances in the roots. Flowers or leaves that can alternately repel or attract insects depending on your needs. In some situations, they can also help enhance the growth rate of other types. In essence, companion planting helps bring a balanced eco-system to your landscaping, allowing nature to do its job. Experience shows us that using companion planting in the landscape is an important part with white New Guinea Impatients or Japanese painted ferns, which have variegated leaves in shades of grey combined with old fashioned dark leaf Begonias in white, pink or red can pop up gracious texture and color from a long distance. Astilbes with their feather shape flowers planted with Victoria Blue Salvia is a great visual combination, since both flowers have the same look with different texture. Basically, any kind of perennial flower that is more structural, which holds the foliage during the season, planted in companion with a long blooming resistant annual flower, will give a good shoot of color and beauty and benefits to the soil for the growth of the flowers.

Gardens that are frequently visited by deer, flowers with herbal scent or poisonous should be chosen. Different kinds of Salvias in shades of blue or purple or Agastaches in shades of purple or magenta combined with Lantana in yellow, orange or white planted together fill up areas where no longer impatients can be planted with spectacular combination of colors shapes and scents.

It is very hard to face it that the environment right in your own back yard has changed. Impatients that were a favorite flower of all times to fill our landscapes with color and grace during the season will no longer be part of beds and borders of our gardens and will be remembered in our garden photographs.

Landscape Designer, writer and lecturer Frederico Azevedo is the CEO of Unlimited Earth Care, Inc. providing design and landscape maintenance to the Hamptons for over 20 years.

For more information call: (631) 725-7551 or visit

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