When Will It Be Safe To Plant Impatiens Again

Question From: P. Gross - Farmington, Michigan, United States
Q: Hey Nancy! We met a long time ago...hope all is well with you. This comes to you from WDIV meteorologist Paul Gross, an avid gardener...I plant a dozen flats of annuals every year, and do most of my own tree and shrub trimming. Many years ago, I and many others planted impatiens. But then a greenhouse down south sent up a batch with a devastating fungus, and we were told that we had to wait several years to plant again until it was determined that the fungus was no longer in our soil. Well, it's been more than several years, and nobody is saying that we'll be able to plant our beloved impatiens anytime soon. What's the latest on this? Will we ever see impatiens here again?

A: Hi Paul, I do remember you and continue to enjoy your work at Channel 4. It's my fave for news. Your question is a good one and I do not have a definitive answer. MSU and other researchers say it is possible for the spores to live in the soil from 5 to 7 years. Garden Centers are beginning to sell impatiens wallerianna again. Plants that are treated early on by the grower seem to do fine, but MSU says if the weather is right there could be another serious outbreak. I was on the other side of the state a couple of weeks ago and saw many plantings along the lakeshore. So the answer is, it's a crapshoot. At this time I do not promote them as bedding plants. Hope this helps, Nancy

Comment: Thanks for the reply, Nancy! I was recently up north in the Charlevoix area, and joined my father-in-law on his errand to the local nursery. Since I was there, I just happened to ask the question. They told me that they began selling impatiens again this year, and not one person came back reporting any problems. Half of me wants to try them in my bed again and see what happens, and half of me wants to keep waiting (but I’m getting impatient about these impatiens!). Thanks again for the reply…I’m a big fan of your weekly column! Paul