Alternatives shine in busy Lizzie shortage
9 February 2012
Many garden retailers and wholesale nurseries will not be stocking busy Lizzie (Impatiens walleriana) cultivars this summer because of the disease that has devastated these plants in recent years. Instead, gardeners will be encouraged to fill their borders, containers and hanging baskets with alternatives such as begonias and petunias.
Busy lizzies were the top-selling bedding plant in the UK, with annual sales topping £25M. In the last few years, however, impatiens downy mildew (Plasmopara obducens), a fungal disease which causes yellowing leaves, defoliates and eventually kills plants (and for which there is no chemical control available to home gardeners), has made retailers take drastic action.
B&Q sells some 20 million busy Lizzies a year, but will be stocking extra begonias, pelargoniums and marigolds instead. Homebase, Notcutts garden centres, the RHS Plant Centres and mail-order firm Thompson & Morgan will all follow suit and promote other bedding. Peter Burks, Chair of the Garden Centre Association, said its members were deciding for themselves. ‘So far around three quarters of our [more than 200] members have said they will not be stocking susceptible Impatiens cultivars.’ However, some retailers such as the Garden Centre Group will sell busy Lizzies, intending to give customers extra advice to make their own choice.
✤ Search ‘Impatiens downy mildew’ at www.rhs.org.uk and see also The Garden, November 2011, p8.