Mildew takes toll on pop­u­lar gar­den plant

CHB Mail - - NEWS -

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.

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