Hope for impatiens?
This week’s column was posted on the Cornell University “Mushrooms List Serve”. It was posted by Megan Daniels, a talented mycology grad student at Cornell. As little as four years ago, hybrids of Impatiens, were the most popular annual flower in America. Now, they are not even being sold at many garden centers.
This year grandma couldn’t find impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) to plant in her flowerbeds. She’s always planted impatiens! But lately, impatiens have been sickened by downy mildew, caused by Plasmopara obducens. This plant disease has received attention the past few years because it decimates the most popular varieties of this annual garden plant. What you probably haven’t heard yet is the story of how impatiens, through sex, sheer luck, and the attention of one man, rose to the pinnacle of popularity only to be suddenly destroyed, all thanks to an unassuming downy mildew that has been lurking close to our back yards.