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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - May 19, 2009

From: Denton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Problems with non-native impatiens in Denton, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, 4 weeks ago I planted a shady bed (2'x10') with impatiens for the third year in-a-row. Previously, the plants thrived & bloomed till November. Three weeks ago, something that looked like a thin layer of white salt appeared on the leaves and stems of 2 of the plants. We've had, at least, 2-3 days of rain a week since then. After each rain, the "salt" appeared on another 2-3 plants and now has spread the length of the bed, including on my large purple wandering jew (and on the leaf mulch surrounding the plants). After the "salt" is wet it looks like brown sand with 2 tiny "antennae." It doesn't cover each plant, just about a third, and, so far, hasn't affected blooming or growth. I am most concerned about it spreading to the rest of my garden, separated by a 2' sidewalk.

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the care, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. Since Impatiens wallerana is native to Africa, from Tanzania to Mozambique, it will not appear in our Native Plant Database. We found an excellent website from the University of California Integrated Pest Management site on Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Impatiens wallerana. On the upper right hand side of this webpage are two columns of links to "Invertebrates" (bugs) and "Diseases". Follow each of those links, all of which have pictures that will help you identify your problem. There are also suggestions for treatment. 

 

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