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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.

Landscape alternatives to impatiens

University of Illinois Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup, gives landscape Alternatives to America's Favorite Flower Impatiens

The threat of a disease called downy mildew on impatiens is causing gardeners to forego their "go to" when they need a pop of color in a shady location. Impatiens has long been America's top selling annual flower because they are easy to grow. This disease ultimately defoliates the plant leaving behind only stems. Researchers are currently looking for solutions to the problem. Until then, plant alternative shade loving annuals:

-Caladiums (Caladium spp.) have large heart shaped leaves with designs of reds, pinks, whites and greens. Caladiums are grown from bulbs and can be dramatic in the in mass or as a specimen.

-Lobelia (Lobelia inflata) comes in bright blue and an even brighter blue and offers a multitude of blooms. Lobelia can be the new favorite for hanging baskets and containers.

-Magilla perilla looks like coleus but has dramatic pop of pink against darker magenta or green foliage. Midwest gardeners love this plant because it is heat tolerant.

-Bonfire Begonias (Begonia boliviensis) come in shades of bright orange and scarlet and spill over the side of any container and are low maintenance gems.

-Wishbone flowers (Torenia spp.) come in shades of purples, pinks, whites and yellows and stays very compact in the landscape and can stand up to the extreme heat and humidity.

-Licorice plants (Helichrysum petiolare) come in shades of lime green and silver and mix well with flowering annuals.

-Jacob's ladder (Polemonium spp.), Coral Bells (Heuchera spp.) and Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla) are all shade loving perennials with foliage beautiful enough to rival any impatiens. Jacob's ladder and Brunnera have variegated green and white foliage and blue spring flowers. Heuchera foliage comes in bright bold colors. Most garden centers and greenhouses are ready to answer further questions on alternatives to impatiens.

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