Bulletproof Substitutes For Impatiens

Bullet Bounce1

Last year downy mildew wasn’t so bad—conditions weren’t quite right to spread the disease around. A lot of wet, windy days would have been tough, but the bright, dry weather kept the problem at bay. Unfortunately, downy mildew is part of our environment now—it will wax and wane from year-to-year. A quick recap: downy mildew is a fungus that spreads through spores carried on the wind. Perfectly healthy plants acquire the disease from upwind infections or occasionally from spores leftover in the soil from the previous year. This means that sometimes impatiens will do well by customers and sometimes they won’t.

As a result, we’ve scaled back our walleriana impatiens production in favor of the new hybrids that offer better disease resistance. These plants pull their genetics from the hawkerii species (New Guinea) that is not vulnerable to the disease. Here are four strong choices to help bridge the color gap left by the classic impatiens. As a rule, these plants offer much better coverage than the traditional New Guineas we’ve grown in the past. Their habits are smaller and tighter, and they usually cost less:

Riviera New Guinea

Bullet Riviera New Guinea

This compact series from Dummen is more vigorous than the Harmony® series. What we like most about it is the unique coloration of the petals—they’re multi-color or bicolor, such as light to dark orange, or white and lavender together. ‘Riviera Red Star’ has a neat star pattern in the flowers, plus you’ll see red, pink, and blush all in one bloom.


Bullet SunPatiens

Originally bred to grow in sunny places, SunPatiens® also happens to be impervious to downy mildew. We like it for its all-weather performance, especially in hot summer conditions. Compact SunPatiens® varieties have a nice, controlled habit—they thrive in full sun to light shade with regular watering.


Bullet Bounce

If you’re partial to a more traditional impatiens look, go with the Bounce™ series—it’s also highly resistant to downy mildew. These plants do a little better in the shade than SunPatiens® do—they can go from deep shade to mostly sun. We think they offer a little bit better coverage bloom-wise, too, but this can vary.

Harmony® New Guinea

Bullet Harmony

We like the Harmony® series for its unique colors. Harmony® Radiance selections are bicolor, each one combining a rich shade with white. Harmony® Cream varieties offer a two-tone effect, with light and dark variants of the same color on one bloom. Plants in the Harmony® series are shorter than Rivieras.

Our impatiens are available in a variety of pot and tray sizes, from the 1801 flat to the 8-inch pot. Please refer to our pre-order screens or the Spring Idea Book for specific size offerings, or call the office for more information.