Serious Disease is Threatening Fairfax County Impatiens

    A serious disease of Impatiens, Impatiens Downy Mildew, has been confirmed in Fairfax County.
This disease had been identified in greenhouse production in the U.S. since 2004, but is now a widespread landscape problem in many regions. Greenhouse growers and suppliers have significantly cut back on production of Impatiens and it is likely your local garden center will not carry Impatiens this season. Research is still occurring on how long the disease can survive. Some research is suggesting up to five years, while others say two to three years. Plants in brighter areas fared better than plants in deep shade.

    Adria Bordas, the Fairfax County Cooperative Extension Agent has spoken to many professionals across the Green Industry and to home gardeners in Northern Virginia. Most are concerned about plants that may have wintered indoors and what to do in 2013 and 2014. All common garden Impatiens and many hybrids are susceptible to this disease. Early symptoms are very subtle; the upper leaf surface may remain green, exhibit stippling or turn only slightly yellow. Leaf edges may also curl downward and plants may become stunted. Under conditions of cool temperatures and high humidity, leaf undersides may show a dense, white growth composed of spores. Late symptoms include stunting, defoliation, and flower drop, often with only bare stems remaining. The disease tends to be worse in:
• Locations where leaves stay wet for extended periods of time.
• Very dense beds with no air circulation.
• Beds receiving overhead sprinkler irrigation, because the foliage does not dry quickly.
Adria suggests that for the 2013 and 2014 season, because there is a strong likelihood of disease, gardeners should consider planting other species. Bear in mind that spores of Impatiens Downy Mildew Fungus can survive overwinter in plant debris and on weed hosts. Some alternative include:
Torenia (Wishbone Flower): Attracts hummingbirds and comes in a range of colors.Coleus: A classic in the garden, shade loving foliage plant.
Sun Patiens: More vigorous that traditional New Guinea Impatiens and can bloom in sun and shade.
New Guinea Impatiens: Performs best in morning sun and shaded from afternoon sun.
Begonias: Wax, Solenia, and Dragon Wing Begonias are heat tolerant and do well in partial or full shade.
Browallia: Perfect for the landscape or a mixed containers. Gorgeous blue to lavender to white flowers.

To Prevent and Limit Diseases in your bedding plants:
• Avoid mass planting. Mono-cultures incur risk of a single species problem; diversity is good.
• Water at the base of plants if possible, rather than sprinkle all the foliage;
• Water early in the day if possible, so the garden can dry out before nightfall.
• Thin out crowded plantings; lack of air circulation favors some diseases.
• Do not compost diseased plants, but discard in garbage bags or bury them in a deep hole.
Your local Garden Center may have lists of other alternatives.
A list of some useful online resources, which include more detailed disease control information, is provided on my web page. For specific questions, contact Adria Bordas at or call (703) 324-5369.

Lake Fairfax will be Stocked April 12

    Although fishable year-round, spring is the premier time for fishing at Lake Fairfax in Reston. Thousands of pounds of safe-to-eat rainbow trout are stocked in the lake with the last stocking to take place at mid-day on April 12. A Virginia fishing license is required along with either a one-day or a seasonal trout fishing pass available at the site. There are one-pole and six-fish limits. The lake is very accessible for shoreline fishermen. For information call 703-471-5415. ALL stocked trout will be of legal size and as in the past, YOU may be the lucky angler to catch one of the few 16” – 19” trout that have been stocked. Season trout passes for 2013 will be available for purchase at the Main Office and will be valid for the entire calendar year. Adult season passes are $60 and daily passes are $15, with lower prices for children. For more information call 703-471-5415 or go to

Have Your Home Certified as Wildlife Habitat

    If you love gardening and connecting with people in your community, the National Wildlife Federation can help you certify your home or community as a wildlife habitat. By providing food, water, cover and a place for wildlife to raise their young, you not only help wildlife, but restore balance in our commercial and residential areas. Whether you have an apartment balcony or a large yard, you can help.

    A Community Wildlife Habitat is a community that provides habitat for wildlife throughout the community--in individual backyards, on school grounds and in public areas such as parks, community gardens, places of worship and businesses. To get started, go to



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