Popular garden flower may spread disease that destroys healthy plants

9:48 PM, Apr 5, 2013   |    comments
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A popular flower many East Tennesseans have in their yards could actually be poisoning the ground where it's planted. There's now concern about a type of sickness the shade-loving impatiens flower spreads in the soil.

A UT plant pathologist discovered the first-known Tennessee case of Downy Mildew disease last year.

"It spreads rapidly," explained Alan Windham. "And often it spreads so fast you don't know it's there until you see the damage and it's too late to do anything about it. It knocks the leaves off other plants until you're left only with stems. It's pretty drastic when you see the symptoms."

Experts say the Downy Mildew can remain in affected soil and even move airborne to destroy healthy plants.

Because of the disease, production of impatiens flowers nationwide will be reduced up to 75 percent this year.

There are several alternatives to get a pop of color in your garden, like begonias and the wishbone flower.

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