Replacing Impatiens In Containers For Shade: Hits And Misses
I wasn’t going to be discouraged by the prospect of doing without impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) due to the devastating blight that has swept the country. Impatiens are a staple for shade containers and beds for myself and many other gardeners. However, I was eager to try out some new plants I had just learned about in a class on annuals. Now that we are in high summer, I can confidently say that the performance of the replacements has been: mixed.
Amethyst Flower (Browalia speciosa). At first I loved this plant, especially the blue flowers. However, within a month all but one had succumbed to a mysterious wilt and had to be replaced.
Fan Flower (Scaveola aemula). I was excited about this annual that has a trailing habit and blooms in blue or white. The flowers have a unique fan shape (hence the common name), and can take shade or sun. They looked great in my wheelbarrow planter, others settled into the window box that hangs on the rail of the back porch landing.
I’m very aggravated that I never got a picture of the wheelbarrow with Fan Flowers draped over the side and filling in nicely. In fact, I was headed into the backyard to take just such a picture with my phone when I saw the aftermath of the Great Fan Flower Massacre.
Not sure who did this, Chipmunk? Rabbit? Don’t think it was squirrels. Whoever it was left shredded Fan Flower all over the ground.
Fortunately, the Evildoer was unwilling or unable to jump up onto the rail on the back porch landing, so the Fan Flowers there are still doing just fine. However, emergency reinforcements had to be purchased for the wheelbarrow.
New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri). Can’t say I’m excited about these, but they’ve done fine. Larger but fewer flowers than the more common Impatiens, and less of a spreading habit. I’ve used plants with white and lilac flowers, but these have all the colors of the I. walleriana.
In terms of other plants for my shade containers, I have pretty much stuck with my usual favorites: Caladium and Bacopa (Sutera cordata). These have done well, as they always do in our garden. I’m also experimenting with Million Bells (Calibrachoa cultivars) to see how they do in the light shade of our back garden.
I haven’t used Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) much or Begonias (Begonia semperflorens) at all. These both have the virtue of being available for purchase in relatively affordable flats. This is not the case for any of the plants discussed above. However, Coleus tend to come in colors much warmer than I want in the back garden. And Judy just doesn’t like Begonias.