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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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Saturday - May 11, 2013

From: Westchester County, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Wildflowers
Title: Native Annual Plant Substitute for Impatiens
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

What can be used as an annual flowering plant to substitute for the diseased impatiens? Is Vinca one you would suggest?

ANSWER:

The disease that is causing trouble for the cultivated garden impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) in at least 33 states is downy mildew. There's a good article in ScienceNews, the online magazine explaining the downy mildew problem on impatiens. There are no native vincas to suggest as substitutes, but there are several native annual flowering plants for you to consider. Some will bloom better with more sun.
To find an annual native plant substitute, the first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plant Database.  Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.
Under Combination Search, select the following categories: Habit – herbaceous, Duration – annual, Light requirement – part shade or shade, Soil moisture – moist, height 0-3 ft.
Some of the impatiens substitution possibilities include:

Bidens cernua (nodding beggartick) yellow blooms August – October.

Capsicum annuum (chile pequin) white flowers followed by small green fruit turning red when ripe.  Hot, edible fruit.

Geranium viscosissimum (sticky purple geranium) purple/pink blooms May to August.

Mimulus bicolor (yellow and white monkeyflower) yellow blooms April to June.

Nemophila maculata (fivespot) white blooms with purple spots from April to July.

Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan) yellow daisy-like blooms from June to October.

Salvia coccinea (scarlet sage) white, pink or red blooms February to October.

Tinantia anomala (false dayflower) white, blue or purple flowers from March through May.

 

From the Image Gallery


Nodding beggartick
Bidens cernua

Chile pequin
Capsicum annuum

Sticky purple geranium
Geranium viscosissimum

Fivespot
Nemophila maculata

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Scarlet sage
Salvia coccinea

False dayflower
Tinantia anomala

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