With ever-increasing threats from pests and diseases, it's important for gardeners to be alert and try to prevent problems taking hold
Watch out for new threats
Keeping our gardens free of pests and diseases has always been high on gardeners’ agendas. With the frequent appearance of novel diseases and pests from abroad, planning for healthy gardens has become even more urgent.
The arrival of new pests and diseases in the UK is linked to the rise in the volume and diversity of plants being imported. Changes in climate, especially warmer winters, may also enable more pests and diseases to become established in our gardens
Source new plants carefully
One of the most common ways for pests and diseases to enter gardens is on new plants, or in associated soil.
- Propagate your own plants, from seed or local cuttings.
- Where possible, purchase plants grown in the UK
Check plants coming into the garden
- Check plants for signs of pests or diseases before purchase.
- Keep new plants in an isolated part of the garden for a few weeks before planting out.
- Monitor the health of new plants; if unusual symptoms are observed contact the supplier or RHS Gardening Advice
Keep your plants healthy
Good plant husbandry can reduce the impact of pests and diseases. Strong, healthy plants are more resilient and are less likely to be severely affected by pests and diseases. Mulching can not only feed plants to increase their vigour but may also prevent some pests and diseases leaving the soil and infecting the above-ground parts of your plants.
Keep it clean
Keeping your garden clean and tidy helps to reduce pests and diseases. Cleaning garden tools, greenhouses and water butts also reduces the spread of pests and diseases and reduces the chances that they will threaten your garden in the next growing season.
Monitor your plants
Keeping an eye out for pests and diseases means that problems are more likely to be noticed early and before they cause serious damage. Early detection is also likely to mean that the problem is easier to control. RHS web profiles are an excellent source of advice for specific pests and diseases.
RHS members can also make use of RHS Gardening Advice to access free diagnostic and control advice. The RHS will also provide advice to members of the public where a plant is suspected to be affected by an exotic pest or disease (not previously reported in the UK).
Deal with garden waste appropriately
Garden waste affected by pests and diseases should be disposed appropriately.
Home composting can be used for most green waste; local green waste schemes compost at higher temperatures and therefore kill more pests and diseases
Burning or disposal at a council refuse site is best practice for woody plants, and material affected by persistent pests and diseases.