Saturday 15 March 2014
Box blight enquiries received by charity reach record high.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has named the top 10 garden diseases of 2013, based on enquiries received by the RHS Gardening Advice team. For the 18th year running honey fungus is the number one disease, with its presence confirmed on 215 samples, covering 78 plant genera.
Honey fungus, which is considered the most destructive fungal disease in UK gardens, spreads underground, attacking and killing the roots of perennial plants and then decaying the dead wood. If its presence is confirmed, the only effective remedy is to excavate and destroy the infected root and stump, cutting off the food base on which the rhizomorphs feed.
While it was no shock that honey fungus was the number one problem disease in 2012, perhaps the biggest surprise was the influence the weather had on the list. The mild, wet autumn of 2013 is thought to be behind a record increase in Cylindrocladium (4th) and Volutella (5th) box blight cases, with enquiries for both diseases reaching their highest levels since the RHS began keeping detailed digital records in 1996. As in 2012, leaf spots and Pythium occupied the 2nd and 3rd spots in the list.
Rusts (8th) were less common in 2013, with enquiries falling more than 50% on the 2012 figure, which means it slipped four places down the list from a high of 4th in 2012. This was mainly because heuchera rust was less common in nurseries in 2013, while the dry summer restricted the spread of the damp-loving disease that thrived in the very wet summer of 2012.
RHS Chief Scientist Dr John David says: “The high rainfall levels we experienced in 2013 provided the perfect conditions for certain diseases to thrive, most notably Cylindrocladium and Volutella box blight. Should our weather continue to be marked by extreme events, whether that’s extreme wet or warmth, we could see an increase in these types of disease.
“Through our daily interaction with RHS members, via our Gardening Advice and diagnostic services, we are at the forefront of the fight both to identify and advise on the most effective way for gardeners to limit the impact of diseases.”
Notes to editors
For more information, please contact Garfield Myrie in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3060 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, the first of our gardens, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.
Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 210 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.
RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join
RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262