William Cowper once wrote the now famous words, "Variety is the spice of life." This couldn't be truer in the garden. Nothing spices up a garden like plants with variegated foliage. Use too many and they'll make you dizzy. But placed in the background or strategically planted in the midst of the garden, variegated foliage can bring out the best in all of your plants.
Variegated plants come in a myriad of shapes and shades. From bold to subtle, there's something for every gardener's personal tastes.
We love impatiens as much as the next person, but the proliferation of downy mildew has taken much of the joy out of growing them.
Signs that your plants are suffering from an infestation of downy mildew are:
• Light green, yellowing or stippling of the leaves
• The leaves curl down along the edges
• White, downy-like growth on the underside of leaves
• Stunted growth, leaf drop and flower drop
The disease spreads rapidly by spores transmitted by splashing irrigation water and/or air currents, and primarily infects Impatiens walleriana (common garden impatiens); those with single flowers and double flowers are equally affected.
Because of this ongoing problem, many growers are decreasing their production of Impatiens walleriana, some as much as 60%.
For this reason, finding this type of impatiens at all might be difficult this year. If you have your heart set on growing them, look for New Guinea impatiens or some of the other strains that have a high resistance to the disease. The Sunpatiens, Fanfare, Divine, Celebration and Celebrette series of impatiens are all resistent.
While there are fungicides on the market that will control the disease, extreme vigilance (and frequent treatment) is required. Because of this, we feel that attempting to grow many varieties of impatiens will prove to be problematic for most people.
We think the time has come to explore other options for summer color. After all, growing plants is supposed to be pleasant, right? Here are ideas for some great floral alternatives: