THE BUSY LIZZIE - Impatiens walleriana

THE BUSY LIZZIE - Impatiens walleriana







Up until recently, Impatiens species and their cultivars have been without doubt some of the most popular of all summer bedding plants. Unfortunately, the cultivar range of Busy Lizzies - Impatiens walleriana has for the past ten years or so have been hit by a devastating fungus-like organism Plasmopara obducens, commonly known as Impatiens downy mildew.

Busy lizzie flowers
It was found for the first time in the UK in 2003 and while statutory action undertaken by FERA controlled any further outbreaks of the disease, following years were less successful and eventually a widespread outbreak of the disease resulted in 2011. Since that time, the common bedding busy Lizzie has no longer been grown under large scale commercial production. Moreover, you will be hard pressed to locate any Busy Lizzie seed from which you can grow your own stock.

Luckily, outbreaks of downy mildew have been confined to the Busy Lizzie cultivars and no cases have been found on the New Guinea impatiens -Impatiens × hawkeri or on the few species of Impatiens found growing in the wild in the UK such as the Himalayan balsam - Impatiens glandulifera.

Native to eastern Africa from Kenya to Mozambique, it is in its natural habitat a herbaceous perennial plant capable of growing up to 24 inches in height. One of its defining features are its incredible seed pods which, when ripe, will explode to the slightest touch. This rather shocking adaptation has evolved as a very effective mechanisation for for seed dispersal.

Impatiens walleriana - Forest and Kim Starr
Busy Lizzies will happily grow in any well-drained garden soil, and while they will flowers their socks off in full sun they can suffer from scorching during the heat of the summer. With that in mind they will do better planted in dappled shade if you are growing them in a Mediterranean climate. However be aware that as Impatiens produce succulent stems, the warmer the weather the more watering they will require. If the plants do start to wilt they will recover without any detrimental side effects if you get to them quickly enough. However, leave it too long and you can experience leaf discolouration followed by leaf drop. Luckily they are a resilient species and so if they are watered regularly enough from that point on then they will recover.

The Buzy Lizzie was commonly cultivated for parks and garden bedding schemes, but it was also a mainstay of hanging baskets and planted containers. Numerous cultivars had been developed which ranged in colours from white to purple, and all colours in between. The Super Elfin series which was bred by Claude Hope in Costa Rica was the most dominant of all the available commercial cultivars.

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For related article click onto the following links:
Blue Diamond Impatiens
Blue Diamond Impatiens - Impatiens namchabarwensis
HOW TO GROW ANTIRRHINUMS FROM SEED
HOW TO GROW THE BLUE DIAMOND IMPATIENS FROM SEED - Impatiens namchabarwensis
HOW TO GROW BRACHYSCOME
HOW TO GROW IMPATIENS FROM SEED
How to Grow Marigolds from Seed
IMPATIENS NIAMNIAMENSIS - THE CONGO COCKATOO
The Busy Lizzie
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