Something is eating my Impatiens

maw57(6 - Cincinnati Ohio)August 12, 2006

I usually have a wonderful mound of impatiens under a very large white pine. I was out of town for a few weeks (with friends watering) and upon return (and after the latest heat wave) have found that while the impatiens are still alive, they have lost all foliage on any upper stems. There is a lot of new foliage along the ground, but they all have these green sticks coming out of them which are the defoliated stems. I used Miracle Grow on them last week thinking that no rain and hand watering probably stressed them, but this has more indications of something munching on them.

I live in an urban area on a well travelled street. I have no deer, no bunnies, but lots of foot traffic because the impatiens are on a corner. I do have dog piddle and trample traffic, but that hasnt hindered them in the past. Usually by this time the mound is about shin height. It's a good sized area - about 4 flats worth.

Maybe grubs? But dont they eat from the roots up and the plants then just die.

I have lots of pill bugs, but I didnt think they ate stuff.

Thx in advance for any help!

Cincinnati, Ohio

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tjsangel(z5 OH)

Do you have any groundhogs/gophers around?


    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 8:26AM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

If they get dry, impatiens will drop their leaves. I would guess they got dry while you were gone.
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 12:04PM
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dianne1957(NC 7b)

Impatiens here in NC are not doing as well as previous years. After reading-up on the subject; I found that Impatiens do develope disease problems, Please see link beliow.........Dianne

Here is a link that might be useful: Solving Impatien Problems

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 9:06PM
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maw57(6 - Cincinnati Ohio)

To All - THANKS for the input. To dianne1957 I also found that link and didnt solve my problem.

As to janetr - earwigs are a potential - how to you get rid of them. Also any clue on how to deal with pill bugs would be helpful. I'd prefer non-nasty chemical ideas if possible.

I think after nighttime searches and pondering, Linda might get the award! Linda and my overly kind watering neighbors. I actually think what happened is that the plants were dry and weak and then they got "sheared" by an energetic sprinkler! Upon closer inspection the top of the "sticks" looked like they were cut - and all at a very similar level. If you think about if you let impatiens wilt then blast them with spray you could very easily sheer the top leaves and basically pinch them back!

Thx again for the input & at least I've provided the giggle for the day.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 7:29PM
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garden_grammie(SE Pa.)

Japanese Beetles attacked my impatience this year! They ate the leaves and some flowers. The little sticks you mentioned were probably the stems of the blooms.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 8:31AM
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Earwigs have been eating some of my impatiens. Impatiens don't seem to be their favourite food, though - they love clematis, but I digress. I've found you don't ever really get 'rid' of earwigs - this year doesn't seem to be as bad as others, though.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 5:37AM
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I found rabbits eating my impatiens. The one, in particular that I found, just sat there, stared at me while I wildly ran across my yard to shoo him away, and looked like he was thinking, "Who does she think she is, interrupting my breakfast???"

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 3:45PM
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I've planted many flats of impatiens for many years. Two years I have had the same promblem - looks like some critter was really chowing down during the night. Last year it happened when summer became dry. I water them a lot and wonder if they were nice and succlent and there was not a way for rabbits, groundhogs or whatever to get their usual mositure. Someone please help enlighten me!!!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 9:09PM
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I've had a similar problem with impatiens this year, north of Pittsburgh. The flowers are being "eaten" around my circle very systematically. The garden is fenced so I don't think it is bunnies. Could it be earwigs? They've been horrible in the house this year!! Never seen it like this in 20 years here and we had a very mild winter. How do you get rid of earwigs? Do they like beer, like slugs? TIA!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 11:19AM
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I was glad--but sorry--to see this thread. I have had my garden for many years. I have a lot of shade so lots of impatiens in large beds and not near each other. Impatiens has been a fail-safe plant for me, giving color after my perennials stop.

This year has been a catastrophe. One bed after another has been denuded of leaves and flowers. All I have left is stems.

Last week, I put a slug product everywhere tho I have never really had a slug problem, just a few here and there. I also used Liquid Fence as deer and bunnies both eat impatiens--but they usually eat the whole plant.

I am mystified and devastated. My garden is essentially ruined as it would take til Labor Day to bring the impatiens back, even if I knew what to do. Never thought of earwigs tho I have had a few in the house--but just a few.

Has anyone read anything from their state or county extension agent on this problem?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 9:40PM
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There is a very good chance that what you are seeing is a disease called impatiens downy mildew. A white, velvety coating of spores forms on the underside of the leaves. The leaves will prematurely drop leaving bare, leafless stems (green sticks) often with a tuft of tiny green leaves near the top. Since your plants have already defoliated, the evidence (leaves with visible sporulation) are on the ground, see if you can find some of these and look at the underside. At this point the sporulation probably looks more gray and matted verusus fluffy and white. This disease is being seen throughout the southeast, up the east coast and great lakes region.
Much more information can be found at

Here is a link that might be useful: Impatiens downy mildew

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 9:17AM
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This is being discussed on another thread.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 6:47PM
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rosiew(8 GA)

ginny, experts recommend that all parts of the plant be pulled, bagged and disposed of. Remove all traces of leaves on the ground also - they are the carriers of the downy mildew. Google IMPATIENS DOWNY MILDEW everyone for more information. I've read recommendations to not plant impatiens in the same spot - sometimes the spores remain after several years. It's a stinkin' garden tragedy on an epic scale.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 9:28PM
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I live in Western NC and am having the same problem with my Impatiens. In my front yard I have some planted around a Flowering Cherry Tree and in my back yard some planted in pots. In the last two weeks all the flowers and leaves have been eaten.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 9:11AM
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