QUESTION: I have a pot of impatiens that was doing well, but now the flower buds have been dropping off or turning brown before opening. The pot is always in the shade and I keep it well watered and fed. It has nice green leaves, just no flowers. Any idea what could cause this?
If there are no other symptoms – no spotting of the leaves, no rotting of the stems, no powdery coating or other unusual growth – a good guess at the source of the problem would be the long period of extreme heat. Even in the shade it has been extremely hot (remember that day it hit 109 degrees?) and plants in containers may suffer more because the pot can dry out quickly. A plant under stress will shed its flowers first.
By now, with several days of rain and more reasonable temperatures, the impatiens (and many other things) should begin to recover.
This is a good time to mention again, though, an email I received from UT Extension plant disease expert Alan Windham, in which he warned about the development of downy mildew in beds of impatiens. Watch for plants that are losing leaves, that don’t flower, and that have white growth on the undersides of the leaves, he advises. This disease can be extremely damaging, so pull up, bag and dispose of infected plants to keep it from spreading. There’s more about it at UT Extension’s Soil, Pest and Plant Center Facebook page.
…And too hot to plant, too
QUESTION: My daughter has thinned out her iris bed and given some to me. She has given me the whole plant (bulbs and stems). I know I can not plant them at this time but how do I store them until they can be planted in November or December? Do I need to cut the stems off now or leave them as is? Thanks for any information you can provide.
You’re right, with too much heat and still too little rain, it’s a bad time to plant anything. Irises are pretty hardy so you can wait to plant the rhizomes.
For now, cut the leaves off to about 3 to 6 inches, and remove as much of the soil from the rhizome as you can. Don’t wash them, just brush off the dried soil. Check to make sure there are no rotting places, insects or diseased-looking spots (discard those if there are) and store them in a cool, dry place.
You don’t need to wait until November to plant them. While they’re pretty hardy, they’d still rather be in the ground, so consider planting in September, or after the worst of the summer heat passes.
When you do get ready to plant, here’s a helpful link from the American Iris Society that provides information.
Another reminder about watering: In spite of all the rain lately, we’re still experiencing severe drought conditions in Middle Tennessee. Young trees suffer most. If you planted trees this spring, give them a little extra attention to help them make it through this hot, dry summer. Click here to see the Nashville Tree Foundation’s guidelines and tips to help keep your trees healthy.