Mite blight threatens the fuschia’s future in the United Kingdom.
The fuchsia’s future is threatened by a sap-sucking bug. With its hanging, bell-like blossoms, the striking red and pink plants have lit up Britain’s gardens for ages.
However, the fuchsia gall mite, which wreaks havoc on the bloom, has spread throughout the south of England and as far north as York. The Royal Horticultural Society has barred specialised fuchsia growers from displaying in its grounds, describing it as a “microscopic sapsucking mite.”
Fuchsia gall, a South American native, was first discovered in Fareham, Hampshire, in 2007.
Its appearance is attributed to a hobbyist bringing cuttings into the country illegally.
The 0.25mm-long mite is resistant to pesticides and has risen to the top of the society’s top ten pests reported by gardeners.
“They climb up to the top of the plant and get blown away by the wind,” said John Nicholass, secretary of the British Fuchsia Society.
“Unfortunately, it entered the country initially in the south, and the prevailing winds are from the south and south west, so it is naturally blowing up the country.”
Cold winters in the north may kill mites – it’s hoped they can’t survive temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit), but climate change is bringing milder winters.
Gardeners should remove any infested material and burn it to combat the blight.