Beautiful substitutes for impatiens walleriana!
Click on the photo to see the entire slide show and the names of the flowers.

Impatiens are being wiped out by a fungal disease called downy mildew. Impatiens Downy Mildew only affects varieties of Impatiens walleriana. This includes traditional impatiens, double impatiens, trailing impatiens and miniature impatiens.

Impatiens Downy Mildew has become prevalent in the Twin Cities/Metro Area over the last four years. This fungal disease is present in the environment and spreads easily through movement in wind and water. Fungal spores will remain in the soil for a number of seasons after the initial infection. If you have had the disease in your garden, you will likely have it again.

Symptoms of the disease include yellowing of leaves accompanied by a downward cupping; giving the appearance that plants need to be watered. A fine white coating may be visible on the underside of the leaves. Over time, the flowers and leaves drop, leaving bare stems with a few small leaves left on top. Finally, the stems completely collapse and the plants die.

Once the plant is infected, it will not recover. Infected plants should be totally removed from the area (including all leaf debris and roots), bagged and disposed of immediately. Do not compost diseased plant material.

If you choose to buy and plant impatiens, there are some cultural practices that can help reduce the likely hood of infection and disease:

  • Space plants appropriately so that leaf surfaces will dry out quickly.
  • Water more deeply and less often.
  • Avoid watering in the evening.
  • Avoid overhead irrigation.
  • Plant impatiens later in the spring when extended periods of rain are less likely.

 Tonkadale will not grow or sell Impatiens walleriana in 2015.

While nothing can replace an old garden standard that provides outstanding color and shade tolerance, there are many beautiful substitutions. 2015 is a year to try something new and make new friends!

Impatiens hawkeri

This family of Impatiens includes New Guinea Impatiens and is not affected by Impatiens Downy Mildew. All of the varieties have similar shaped flower and growth habit. Some of the varieties trail and spread more than others.

New Guinea Impatiens

Tonkadale grows varieties from the Magnum and Petticoat Series. These plants feature huge flowers in a multitude of hues. They grow to be 12-16 inches tall. New this year is Magnum Red Flame. Our faves include Petticoat Blue Star and Neon Night. These are a great substitute for Impatiens in hanging baskets and mixed containers.

Divine New Guinea Impatiens

This is a spreading variety that you can buy in a 6-pack! Great spread to cover more ground. They come in 10 colors with three mixes.


Finally, an Impatiens that can be planted in sun or shade. These guys are vigorous and grow upright, so know your spacing. Nine colors available.      

Bounce Impatiens

New for 2015! The well-branched plants bounce back like magic after wilt. Cherry, Lilac, Pink Flame, Violet, White are the colors for this year. We are hoping for a Red and an Orange variety in the coming years! Grows up to 20 inches tall.


Begonias in the fiberous family are great for the garden because they are sturdy, can take sun or shade, are forgiving and require less water.

Wax Begonias

If you haven’t yet, you must check out the Bada Bing/Bada Boom series of wax begonias. They are hard to resist! The Bada Booms have bronze foliage and the Bada Bings have green foliage. Bada Bings and Bada Booms are available in White, Rose, Scarlet and Pink. Rose is our favorite!            

Big Begonias  

These Begoinas are stunners, as they grow up to 30 inches tall. You will find Red or Rose with both green leaf and a bronze leaf.

Dragon Wing Begonias

Tall and drapey, these are our tried and true friends. Those who have planted Dragon Wing Begonias can attest to that. Not bad in a hanging basket either! Colors are pink or red with green foliage.

Shade Coleus

You can buy these in 4-packs, 6-packs and 4-inch pots. Coleus comes in a wide array of shapes, textures, colors and heights. Read the label for specific height and growth habit. One of our favorites for the shade is called Chocolate Covered Cherry. You will find more than 60 varieties of coleus at Tonkadale this spring.


Torenia is a flowering annual that works great in the shade. Our favorites are the Summer Wave Series, and they come in Blue and Amethyst. New this year is the Moon Series, which features Yellow, Magenta and Dark Purple. These varieties trail and spread. Great for containers or in the ground.


Also known as Polka Dot Plant, this cutie is short in stature and features colorful foliage in white, pink, rose and red. Great in fairy gardens too.

Shade Lobelia & Browallia

These two lovelies are blue for shade. We all know that gardeners are always looking for blue to pop into a shady to spot to add brightness and interest.

If you are really up for a challenge, it might be time to start thinking about how you can incorporate Perennial Ground Covers for Shade or start a Perennial Shade Garden.

At Tonkadale, you will find many of these varieties grouped together in our Impatiens substitutes section. We are always happy to help and answer questions. See you at Tonkadale!

Additional information is available on the University of Minnesota Extension website: