New Jersey garden centers and nurseries across that state are experiencing a shortage of impatiens due to a devastating downy mildew which has been wiping them out.

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The soil-born disease that started in the Southern states a few years ago, has now made its way to the Northeast, according to Frank Celano, owner of General Landscaping & Country Gardens on Route 70 in Whiting, Ocean County.

"The downy mildew has been a problem for about the last three years on impatiens. It's a disease that only affects a particular type of impatiens, and once the plant is infected, it slowly declines and dies," Celano said.

By mid-June, the impatiens look like they're finished for the season due to the disease.

"Once you plant the impatiens in the soil, the disease affects the plant but also hibernates in the soil for the following year. So any impatiens you plant there in the future will also become infected," Celano said.

Celano suggests planting impatiens in a pot. He said downy mildew doesn't affect other flowering plants.

Celano's said his business has reduced the number of impatiens being sold, but since the flower is typically a big seller, he doesn't want to get rid of them completely.

But there is some good news.  Celano said not all types of impatiens are affected by the disease. "As a matter of fact, the sun patiens and the regular new guinea impatiens are resistant to that disease, so they will not be affected."