The wonderfully versatile impatiens (“common” impatiens, or Impatiens walleriana, I. balsamina, and mini-impatiens) may soon be missing from southern California gardens. A fungus that first surfaced back east a few years ago has made its way to California. Another plus to living in our warm, dry climate is that the fungus attacking impatiens prefers cool, moist weather, but that doesn’t mean it won’t affect us.
SF Gate has a great article about the fungus, and they have kindly included a list of alternative plants that might work in your garden.
The first signs will be the leaves losing color or turning yellow, then flowers and leaves will begin to drop. You can check your plants by looking at the underside of the leaves for a white, powdery mildew.
If your impatiens have it, do NOT compost the plants – put them straight in the garbage. Be sure to get the roots and any leaves or stems that drop. Avoid planting impatiens back in the same area as they can become infected by the previous plants.
The fungus is not affecting the New Guinea impatiens.
I wasn’t able to find information specific to southern California, nor a map showing affected areas around the US. If you have seen it, please let us know where (general location is fine, no need to be specific). This is something all gardeners and garden lovers will want to know.