Plants to Substitute for Impatiens

By now the news of downy mildew fungus destroying impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) is spreading through the gardening community. One of the most beloved annual plants for your shade area is no longer the best option. If you haven’t had problems in the past with impatiens and you want to risk planting them, you’ll need to spray them with a fungicide from the day of planting, as well as every two weeks, until the growing season is over. And, there’s no guarantee that your plants won’t be under attack since the fungal blight can spread by air or water.

But all is not lost. Burke Nursery & Garden Centre has a number of annual plants for shade that can bring summer interest to your garden. Although this list is not complete, here are some suggestions you may want to consider:

  • Wax Begonias (Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum) – Wax begonias, also known as fibrous-rooted begonias, are a staple of any shade garden. They grow 6 to 12 inches, come in white, pink, rose or red flowers, and have either green or bronze leaves.
  • Tuberous Begonias (B. x tuberhybrida) – These plants love to grow in partial shade. You can find them in either erect or trailing varieties. The flowers come in white, yellow, orange, rose, red and pink. The ‘Non-Stop’ begonia flowers look like roses.
  • Torenia Wishbone (Torenia fournieri) – Another plant that loves to grow in shade, especially as the summer brings more heat. They grow 6 to 12 inches tall and flower from summer to fall. They come in solid colors such as yellow, purple, and red, as well as double colors on a single flower.
  • Fuchsia (Fuchsia x hydrida) – A plant that attracts hummingbirds and often found it hanging baskets, there are also erect varieties for the garden.  The flower tends to be purple and pink.
  • New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkerii) – They grow well in partial shade and stand about 12 to 24 inches tall. Colors range from red, orange, white, and pink.
  • Lobelia or cardinal flower (Lobelia spp.) – This plant prefers partial shade and comes in creeping or erect varieties. You’ll find blue, white, or pink flowers in the creeping varieties and red or white flowers in the erect varieties.
  • Alyssum or sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritime) – The little white flowers almost look like baby’s breath. It prefers partial shade.
  • Angel Wings (Caladium bicolor) – Known for its incredibly colorful foliage, this plant is actually related to the Elephant Ear (Caladium hybrid) which will also do well in the shade.
  • Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) – The leaves of this plant look as if someone dripped pink, red, or white paint on a green background. Not only does it do well in the shade, but it will tolerate bright light.
  • Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) – The coleus is great for deep shade and tolerates full sun as well. Its leaves range in color from dark to light green. Some are solid colors while others are multi-colored.