Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print
I love to be the bearer of good news, and boy, do I have news for you: Impatiens are back!
In the wake of a devastating downy mildew outbreak in 2012, the plants have been off limits to local gardeners, who scrambled to find suitable replacements. When downy mildew affected Impatiens walleriana, leaves turned yellow and fell off, plants were severely stunted and gardeners who looked closely noticed the presence of a white substance under leaves. For some, there was the bizarre disappearance of plants altogether.
New Guinea Impatiens were not affected, and they did a fine job standing in for their afflicted cousins, but some physical attributes — such as foliage, tendency to grow tall rather than wide and a lower flower count — kept them from being true, Patty Duke-caliber substitutes.More coverageGardening 101
Now gardeners who still long for the impatiens of yore can plant a new variety, Impatiens hybrida 'Bounce.' The new interspecific hybrid species thrives in sun or shade and looks like an Impatiens walleriana in habit, form and count, but is downy-mildew resistant.
Use them in containers or at the front of a bed, and these impatiens will reward you with an abundance of blooms from spring through fall. And if they happen to wilt — as summer annuals tend to do under the hot sun or when a watering or two is missed — give them a drink and they should bounce right back, without dropping flowers. They are available in bicolor white, pink flame, cherry, lilac and violet.
What's more, the new 'Bounce' impatiens were named an All-America Selection for 2015. Every year, new plant introductions are tested by independent growers throughout North America in the quest to find the season's best offerings. This year, 20 plants were honored in the National and Northeast Regional categories, including some first-in-their-class plants, such as Brussels sprouts, garlic chives, oregano and pak choi, which had never been named before.
Here are the rest of this year's winners. You can expect to see them for sale at local nurseries and in catalogs this spring.
Basil Dolce Fresca
Produces sweet, tender leaves on an attractive, compact plant.
Sweet and mild nicely round bulbs with snow-white flesh and tender tops. White beets don't “bleed” into soups or salads, or stain clothing or hands.
Broccoli Artwork F1
A sweet stem broccoli that produces tasty, tender side shoots and is slow to bolt.
Chives, Garlic Geisha
Organic plants produce an abundance of bright green strap leaves with a milder flavor than other chives.
Cucumber Parisian Gherkin F1
A mini cucumber excellent for pickling.
Dianthus, Interspecific Jolt Pink F1
A brightly flowered, durable, season-long bloomer that withstands summer heat and doesn't set seed.
SunPatiens Spreading Shell Pink
A cross between wild impatiens and New Guinea impatiens, SunPatiens tolerate full sun like Impatiens walleriana never could. This variety delivers a long season of soft pink flowers on spreading plants.
Sweet, frilly, dark-green oakleaf plants that are disease resistant and slow to bolt.
Organic plants have pretty sliver gray foliage and a mildly spicy, peppermint flavor.
Pak Choi Bopak F1
Tender leaves with crisp, sweet stalks on plants that mature early.
Pepper Emerald Fire F1
Extremely hot, tasty jalapeños that measure in at 2,500 Scoville units.
Pepper Flaming Flare F1
An early maturing hybrid Fresno pepper plant with a high yield of brilliant red, mild peppers.
Pepper Pretty N Sweet F1
Sweet tasting, multicolored peppers on compact, 18-inch plants.
Petunia Tidal Wave Red Velour F1
Unique, velvety red flowers on big, vigorous plants that lend themselves to large garden spaces and containers, or for trellising over walls and fences.
Petunia Trilogy Red F1
Rich, vibrant, nonfading red flowers on compact, dome-shaped plants.
Radish Roxanne F1
A hybrid, uniformly colored red radish with a creamy white interior.
Salvia Summer Jewel White 2015
Compact plants with prolific white blooms that keep coming all summer long.
Squash Bossa Nova F1
Mottled dark- and light-green zucchini are easier to spot among foliage than those of typical varieties.
Squash Butterscotch F1
Small, one- or two-serving butternut squash are exceptionally sweet.