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Popular summer bedding plant hit by disease

26 October 2018

NZPPI members took immediate action when laboratory tests for Downy Mildew (Plasmopara obducens) on Impatiens Walleriana came back positive in Auckland. The mildew, once on the impatiens, destroys it, and being an airborne mildew is easily able to infect all impatiens. The disease is in many parts of the world already and has decimated the impatiens. (It only affects impatiens.)

Chief Executive Matthew Dolan says working with Biosecurity New Zealand and leading communications about the matter meant that NZPPI was able to respond quickly to alert growers and nurseries that the plants were at risk of serious infection this season.

“At the height of the season, as a matter of caution, our growers destroyed stock and stopped supplying. Advice went out to all nurseries, for them to inform their customers with orders already in progress and, for them to communicate to their retail customers that these plants may contract the disease and not survive,” he said.

“This was a blow for our producers as Impatiens are one of the most popular garden plants in New Zealand, with millions being planted around homes and in public gardens each year.

“Although disappointing for the public, supplying plants that will likely to be affected by a disease soon after planting is unfair on consumers. Subsequently most stores will not have them for sale this year.

“Nurseries take biosecurity seriously. Destroying plants was the only option this year, but we are anticipating that new varieties of impatiens that are resistant to downy mildew will be available in the next year or so,” Matthew Dolan said.

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