Mildew takes toll on popular garden plant
Garden centres in CHB are asking that customers “don’t shoot the messenger” when they find out that the centres aren’t stocking impatiens this year.
Wendy Milne of Living Colour on Takapau Road, Waipukurau, says MPI has urged all nurseries to cease production and sale of impatiens walleriana, due to the incursion of impatiens downy mildew (IDM), which has come into the country with seed imported from overseas.
Wendy says she made an early decision not to stock impatiens after MPI notified of severe infections of the disease in home gardens.
“Throughout the country, people were taking plants home and within three weeks they were dying,” Wendy says. “Many plants were simply dying in the nurseries.
“Very little has been reported on the issue perhaps because unlike Myrtle rust it’s not affecting native plants.”
On behalf of the industry and MPI, New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated (NZPPI) has applauded the plant producers that decided to stop growing and selling impatiens when they became aware of the disease.
Based on information from industry and overseas experts, NZPPI believes that IDM is likely to be spreading across the North and South Islands.
The mildew, once on impatiens, destroys it, and being an airborne mildew is easily able to infect all impatiens. The disease is in many parts of the world already and has ruined impatiens. It only affects impatiens.
NZPPI chief executive Matthew Dolan says this was a blow for producers
“Impatiens are one of the most popular garden plants in New Zealand, with millions being planted around homes and in public gardens each year. Although disappointing for the public, supplying plants that will likely to be affected by a disease soon after planting is unfair on consumers. Most stores will not have them for sale this year.”
Wendy Milne says impatiens — also known as busy Lizzies — are much beloved by CHB gardeners, as they do so well here, but while IDM hasn’t had the publicity that Myrtle rust gained, “it’s every bit as bad”.
The popular “busy Lizzie” is off the shelves in garden centres nationwide.