Disease wiping out impatiens

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WEBSTER GROVES, MO (KTVI)-- Ann Ciaravino first saw the signs two years ago.

"It would just wither and die and we weren't sure what was going on," says Ann Ciaravino of Sundance Garden Design.  "We thought it wasn't watered correctly or fertilized correctly."

But this garden designer noticed a trend happening across the country, impatiens are imploding.

"It's called Impatiens Downey Mildew and it's spread faster than we were prepared for and it literally wiped out impatiens in beds across the area and containers," says Rolling Ridge Nursery Greenhouse Manager Lynn Cressler.

Sometimes, it can strike just weeks after planting.

Rolling Ridge Nursery noticed it in the early part of last summer as leaves would turn yellow and fall off.

So they spent the winter researching, talking to local growers and plant disease specialists on what to do about this problem.

Their solution was to stop selling them.

"Because if there is no host plant then there is no problem," says Cressler.  "We felt that if we were providing them and selling them then to our customers, it wasn't really the environmental correct thing to do.  It's almost like spreading an infectious disease because that's what it is."

What you will find are divine impatiens, a New Guinea strain that is highly tolerable to the disease.

But you won't find the Impatiens Walleriana, their number one selling bedding plant at this nursery and across the country.

"So the fact that we have no impatiens here in these wonderful yards in Webster, Kirkwood, Glendale and the area that have so much shade is an amazing thing," says Cressler.

The garden designer agrees.

"So yeah, it's a staple," says Ciaravino.  "I`m very sad about it."