Expert Advice

Should I Plant Impatiens This Year?

Posted on May 4, 2018

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According to various test gardens and information from Cornell Cooperative Extension, downy mildew continues to be prevalent on Long Island and there is no known cure.

As the leading garden center on Long Island, we feel it is our responsibility to help stop the spread of downy mildew by suggesting alternatives to impatiens walleriana that will provide you with success with in your garden.

Impatiens before

Impatiens before downy mildew appears.

Impatiens after

Impatiens infected with downy mildew.








If you are not familiar with downy mildew, let us start with a brief explanation. Several years ago a devastating disease started to kill off impatiens walleriana, which are the pretty impatiens gardeners used to plant in masses in their gardens. The leaves of the plants were yellowing, the undersides developed a white, downy color and the growth of the plants was stunted. Leaf and flower drop eventually resulted in bare, leafless stems. These are classic symptoms of downy mildew.

Downy mildew is a water mold. The disease spreads most commonly when the foliage stays wet for extended periods of time and there are cool night temperatures and moist conditions. Therefore, areas of deep shade, beds that receive overhead watering and densely planted beds are more highly susceptible to downy mildew.

Downy mildew only affects Impatiens walleriana. There are many other beautiful annuals you can plant instead of impatiens; and at Hicks, we’ve made it easy for you to spot them! We have created an ‘Impatiens Replacements’ sign program to make it simple for customers to identify plants that require similar conditions to impatiens – and honestly, I think you will like some of the options even more than impatiens!

Here are a few of our favorites:

Bounce ImpatiensBounce™ Impatiens: These impatiens are resistant to downy mildew and are a great annual for sunny and light shade locations. Even better, the well branches plants literally “bounce” back like magic after wilt.



Sunpatiens®: As the name suggests, this is an impatien that can grow in the sun. The thick, glossy petals and tough foliage are less prone to disease, and their sturdy stems tolerate high heat and humidity.



big_begonia_redBig®  Begonia: Provide lush, beautiful blooms in hanging baskets, mixed containers and large landscape plantings. Hybridized for long lasting color, these varieties grow up to 36 inches tall in areas of shade to sun.



New Guinea ImpatiensNew Guinea Impatiens:  A “cousin” of regular impatiens that is NOT affected by downy mildew. Grows 18-24-inches tall. New guineas are great in sun or shade and provide larger plant blooms than normal impatiens so you need to plant less.




Caladium: Are the perfect plant to brighten a shady spot in the garden. The heart-shaped foliage is available in shades of red, pink and white. Use it in containers or border plantings. Grows 18-24-inches tall.




Coleus: There are dozens of varieties which grow from 1-2’ all the way up to 4’. Many different shades of colors, shapes and sizes to choose from. Sun tends to fade leaves on some varieties, others it brings out the color.



Impatiens Replacements logoSo be sure to look for signs with this symbol when shopping at Hicks Nurseries for impatiens replacements. And as always, our dedicated staff is here to help you find exactly what you are looking for. For a complete list of impatiens replacements, click here.

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