Impatiens walleriana (bedding impatiens) is a colorful shade-tolerant annual that is widely used in the landscape and in hanging baskets. This species flowers in shade during most summer months (June to August) and is among the more affordable color investments for the home and commercial landscapes in Michigan. However, it is frequently used in the same landscape beds year after year as a result of perceived lack of alternatives for other colorful shade-tolerant plants.
Impatiens downy mildew (Plasmopara obducens) was observed widely in Michigan landscapes in 2012 (Hausbeck, 2012). The critical concern with this disease is that there are no consumer controls for it and once it is in the landscape, IDM may overwinter (Jennings, 2011). This means that consumers may become unsuccessful in planting impatiens in the same location in upcoming growing seasons if IDM occurred there before.
In 2010, Michigan sold more flats and hanging baskets of impatiens than any other state in the United States (2,115,000 and 540,000 units, respectively, greater than $17.5 million wholesale; National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2011). In an effort to save these sales, much work is being done by plant pathologists and plant breeders to find a solution for IDM. However, little work has been done on consumers’ willingness to purchase alternatives, especially with the likelihood of crop failure if successive plantings of impatiens are made in the same areas. The objectives of this study were to perform a consumer survey to assess consumer willingness to buy alternative colorful shade-tolerant annual bedding plants.
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