By Phran Novelli
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Recently I mentioned how bunnies and earwigs were enjoying my impatiens, which prompted a listener to pipe up about a problem with the potential to be much more devastating than those critters. Downy Mildew is a fungus-like disease that attacks impatiens, as Cindy and her husband found out when they investigated why their impatiens were wasting away.
You can see the white fuzz that gives downy mildew its name on the back of affected impatiens leaves which curl, discolor, and then drop, leaving your plants looking like bare sticks with stubs. It’s too late to cure it once you see it, all you can do then is clean out affected plants, bag them, and put them in the TRASH – not in your compost or yard waste pile – and maybe clear off the top inch or so of mulch too.
It’s not certain yet whether downy mildew can survive our winters, so you don’t want to leave anything lying around that might spread the spores next year. Which means that worst of all, if your impatiens have downy mildew this year, you’re probably going to have to find something else to plant in that shady spot next spring.