Impatiens are the most popular bedding plants in the country. Gardeners are wowed by their easy care and vibrant colors in the shade garden. You can find modern impatiens cultivars in colors right out of the crayon box, including red, salmon, orange, salmon, pink, purple, white and lavender. The one hue you don’t want see is an impatiens turning yellow.
My Impatiens Have Yellow Leaves
It’s a sad day in the garden when you see your impatiens getting yellow leaves. Generally, impatiens are disease-free annuals in the backyard beds, showing off healthy, dark-green leaves. The plant is, however, very sensitive to water stress. The key to healthy impatiens is to keep the soil moist at all times but never soggy. Overwatering and underwatering can result in the leaves of impatiens turning yellow.
What Causes Yellow Leaves on Impatiens
Aside from improper watering, a variety of pests and diseases can cause yellow impatiens leaves.
- Nematodes – One cause of yellow leaves is an infestation of nematodes, tiny, slender worms that live in the soil and attach the plants’ roots. If plants recover slowly after mid-day wilt, nematodes are probably what's causing the yellow impatiens leaves. Dig up the infected plants with surrounding soil and throw them in the garbage.
- Downy mildew – Another possible reason you see the leaves of your impatiens turning yellow is a fungal disease – namely downy mildew. Look for brown spots on the stems before you see the leaves getting yellow. Since impatiens are annuals, it doesn’t pay to use pesticides. Just dig up the infected plants and nearby soil and dispose of it.
- Botrytis blight – If in addition to saying “My impatiens have yellow leaves,” you find yourself saying “My impatiens have wilting flowers and rotting stems,” consider botrytis blight. Increase air space between the plants and offering lots of elbow room are the cultural steps to combat this infection.
- Verticillium wilt – A last possible cause for impatiens getting yellow leaves is verticillium wilt. For both this and botrytis blight, you can apply a fungicide specifically for impatiens.
Note: Any recommendations pertaining to the use of chemicals are for informational purposes only. Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are safer and more environmentally friendly.
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Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.
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