9 Varieties of Impatiens That Resist Downy Mildew

'Florific Sweet Orange' impatiens with bicolor petals
National Garden Bureau

Once upon a time, impatiens were the go-to flower for shade gardens. And then, the downy mildew epidemic changed the way we garden. Beginning in 2011, this fungal disease wiped out the seed-producing stock of commercial growers and caused the common impatiens plant (Impatiens walleriana) to vanish from garden centers.

While there are lovely replacements for your shade garden, including fuchsias, begonias, and coleus, you shouldn't give up on the possibility of growing impatiens. Horticulturists are always developing new varieties, including some that are highly resistant to the fungal disease. Imapatiens walleriana continue to be the subset of impatiens that are affected by downy mildew, but gardeners can circumvent the disease by planting improved New Guinea impatiens varieties. The latest are bred to exhibit increased blooming and a more compact habit than before.

These nine impatiens varieties will thrive in your borders, window boxes, and hanging baskets as well as resist downy mildew.

Gardening Tip

New Guinea impatiens are a division derived by crossing several closely related species, including Impatiens hawkeriI. platypetala, I. aurantiaca, and I. flaccida. Some horticulturists now place the entire group under the I. hawkeri species designation. In nurseries, you may see these plants labeled as Impatiens x, I. hawkeri, or simply New Guinea impatiens.

  • 01 of 09

    'Bounce Violet' (Impatiens x 'Bounce Violet')

    'Bounce Violet' impatiens with purple petals
    National Garden Bureau

    Ball Horticultural Company, the same breeders and distributors that gave us the Wave petunia family, introduced this vigorous hybrid variety that thrives in both sun and shade. The genetics of the Bounce series is a little more diverse than most New Guinea impatiens: It includes parent species from India as well as I. hawkeri, from New Guinea. As a result, 'Bounce Violet,' a purple-flowering cultivar, bears a closer resemblance to the familiar garden impatiens, I. walleriana, native to eastern Africa. The Bounce series is immune to downy mildew and is named for its ability to "bounce" back after wilting in hot weather.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to India, New Guinea, and Solomon Islands
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; grown as annuals elsewhere
    • Height: 15–21 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade
  • 02 of 09

    'Bounce Pink Flame' (Impatiens x 'Balboufink')

    'Bounce Pink Flame' impatiens with pink blooms
    National Garden Bureau

    Ideal for containers, hanging baskets, and a border edge, 'Balboufink,' also known as 'Bounce Pink Flame,' was named a 2015 All-America Selections winner, meaning this variety exhibits superior disease resistance, a long bloom time, and novel colors. The profuse flowers are more than 1 inch in size and will attract butterflies to your garden. The Bounce series offers three additional color choices: white, cherry, and bright coral. 

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to India, New Guinea, and Solomon Islands
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; grown as annuals elsewhere
    • Height: 15–21 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade
  • 03 of 09

    Divine Mix (Impatiens hawkeri [Divine Mix Group])

    Divine Mix impatiens in various colors
    National Garden Bureau

    This variety of New Guinea impatiens produces 2-inch flowers on well-branched plants throughout the summer in shade gardens. Plants are low maintenance and require no deadheading to stay in bloom throughout the season. Unlike some new varieties that are vegetatively propagated, members of the Divine Mix group are available in seed, making them an economical option for gardeners with large landscapes to fill.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to New Guinea and Solomon Islands
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; grown as annuals elsewhere
    • Height: 10–14 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
  • 04 of 09

    SunPatiens 'Spreading Shell Pink' (Impatiens hawkeri SunPatiens Series 'Spreading Shell Pink')

    'Spreading Shell Pink' impatiens with pink flowers
    National Garden Bureau

    'Spreading Shell Pink' falls into a class of New Guinea impatiens hybrids, the SunPatiens series, developed by Japan's Sakata seed company. It's a cross between I. hawkeri and other wild impatiens species. There are compact, spreading, and vigorous lines within the series. What is it about this new introduction that got the attention of All-America Selections judges? 'Spreading Shell Pink' shrugs off the summer heat, rain, and wind, producing soft salmon-pink flowers from early spring until frost. Flowers may reach 3 inches in size, attracting hummingbirds with nectar-rich flowers. Plants require minimal fertilizing

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to New Guinea and Solomon Islands
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–12; grown as annuals elsewhere
    • Height: 18–48 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    SunPatiens 'Compact Pink' (Impatiens hawkeri SunPatiens Series 'Compact Pink')

    'Compact Pink' impatiens with pink flowers
    National Garden Bureau

    In sun or shade, SunPatiens 'Compact Pink' faithfully produce pink flowers all season, through periods of heat and drought. This versatile plant seems to know how you want it to grow, topping out at around 18 inches in containers and exceeding 3 feet in the garden. Try SunPatiens as a houseplant on a sunny windowsill when frost approaches.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to New Guinea and Solomon Islands
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; grown as annuals elsewhere
    • Height: 1–3 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade 
  • 06 of 09

    SunPatiens 'Compact Royal Magenta' (Impatiens hawkeri SunPatiens Series 'Compact Royal Magenta')

    'Compact Royal Magenta' impatiens with magenta petals
    National Garden Bureau

    The magenta blooms of this SunPatiens variety are unaffected by downy mildew, giving you three seasons of vibrant blooms in full sun or dappled shade. For best results, plant 'Compact Royal Magenta' in well-draining soil, and fertilize lightly to avoid lanky plants. Expect the dramatic flowers to arouse the curiosity of hummingbirds. 

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrids; parent species are native to New Guinea and Solomon Islands
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; grown as annuals elsewhere
    • Height: 1–3 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 07 of 09

    'Florific Sweet Orange' (Impatiens hawkeri 'Florific Sweet Orange')

    'Florific Sweet Orange' impatiens with bicolor petals
    National Garden Bureau

    Wherever you decide to place the compact, mounding plants of 'Florific Sweet Orange' impatiens in the garden, their bicolor orange blooms will stand out. Fertilize and deadhead these flowers monthly to ensure repeat blooming from late spring until frost. The hue and form of the blossoms appeal to all pollinators, from bees and butterflies to hummingbirds. 

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrids; parent species are native to New Guinea and Solomon Islands
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–12; grown as annuals elsewhere
    • Height: 10 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade
  • 08 of 09

    'Infinity Orange' (Impatiens hawkeri 'Infinity Orange')

    'Infinity Orange' impatiens with orange petals

    Forest and Kim Starr / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Zesty orange hues bring sunshine to the summer garden and pair well with hot red flowers or as a contrast to purple and blue blooms. 'Infinity Orange' is a Proven Winners introduction, and, although you might consider it a foolproof plant, be aware that it's thirsty. New Guinea impatiens need a daily water check on dry days in the summer, especially if they're growing in pots. It's a small price to pay for disease-free blooms that endure until the first frost. 

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrids; parent species are native to New Guinea and Solomon Islands
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; grown as annuals elsewhere
    • Height: 10–14 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade; tolerates full sun if watered frequently
    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    'Florific White' (Impatiens hawkeri 'Florific White')

    'Florific White' impatiens with white blooms

    claudiodivizia / Getty Images

    What flower garden doesn't benefit from a soothing white counterpoint to provide balance in the landscape? 'Florific White' New Guinea impatiens are available as seed, so you can fill up your moon garden with mildew-free impatiens. Sow seeds early indoors, about four months before the last frost, to enjoy the longest bloom time. This is a low-growing variety that makes for a good edging or bedding plant.  

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrids; parent species are native to New Guinea and Solomon Islands
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; grown as annuals elsewhere
    • Height: 10–14 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade