Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Friday, 17 July 2009

Facing the Fuchsia

I've come to realise that the main reason why I'm feeling rather morose about my garden at the moment is the state of my Fuchsias. They've always been one of my late summer mainstays but this year they're looking far from their best. The reasons for this are twofold: our cold winter and a rather pesky bug.

Although I only grow hardy Fuchsias, the winter cold has laid them to waste somewhat. I've said goodbye to all the ones I had in pots plus F. 'Mrs Popple'. Others like F. 'Lady Boothby' and F. 'Garden News' are still at the rather pathetic shoot stage. Only F. 'Hawkshead' and the F. magellanica cultivars are really strutting their stuff so far.

Then there's the state of the pictured F. 'Genii'. As you can see it's looking rather blistered and bruised. It's the same at Threadspider's and we initially thought it was a virus. However, when I came to photograph my plant for this blog, I noticed lots of tiny holes close to where the worst of the blistering was. This made me reach for my RHS Pests & Diseases - a great book to have in your library because the guide is mainly picture based and you can start at the level of 'Leaf Problems' and work your way towards finding the cause in a matter of minutes. Sure enough on page 29 my culprit was laid bare: capsid bugs aka Lygocoris pabulinus.

Bugs are a sucking insect and their mouthparts are modified into a feeding tube. They can be a transmitter of viruses, but in the case of capsid bugs their saliva is toxic to the plant. This leads to the formation of tiny holes in the leaves where their feeding took place, plus the blistering of the plant material around them. Flowers can also be damaged or not form at all. The main months for damage are May and June, though there can be two lifecycles completed over a full growing season.

Organic control is to inspect plant shoots and to remove any of the critters by hand. This can be a little tricky because I've found they tend to fall onto the soil at any sign of plant disturbance. This link shows you a photograph of what to look for (towards the bottom of the page) alongside some of the other bugs which may be mistaken for it. They can be brown or green: this link shows you a picture of a green one.

It's not just Fuchsias that are attacked. My friend L emailed last week to ask what was putting the loads of tiny holes in her Hydrangea and Caryopteris leaves. Sure enough when I asked her whether the foliage was also blistered, she confirmed it was. The RHS says they can also attack Chrysanthemum, Clematis, Dahlia, Forsythia, Magnolia, Phygelius, roses and Salvia - eek! They like fruit and vegetables too, particularly apples, bush fruit, potatoes and beans.

However, it's not all doom and gloom. I've spent the past week or so resigned to having no blooming Fuchsia in my single terrace bed this summer and I've even contemplated removing it altogether. Tonight I'm glad I've stayed my executionary hand: I've just been for my usual evening stroll around the garden and there are definitely shoots of recovery to be seen. I'm now going to cut back all the damage to see if that encourages further healthy growth and some flowers at last :)

10 comments:

  1. NOooooooooooooo

    I love my fuchsias and couldn't do without them. They are the best thing in my garden at the moment. Bar the Lobelia tupa, which i will be boring my blog readers with at some stage.

    Freakin Capsid bug. Let me at it with some bugclear, my dear, if I do it, then you aren't to blame :-)

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  2. Ooooh, I've been looking for a book with decent photos of pests and diseases - most of them only seem to have a few line drawings, which is useless - I'll have to put that one on my list :)

    Sorry about your Fuchsias though - I hope they recover & the bugs don't get into anything else.

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  3. Late summer; late summer! It is July. Now I know Chippenham was drenched yesterday, but really - late summer - please not yet.
    Love the blog
    Mark

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  4. Oh VP - Snap, I spent the day on the internet a couple of days ago to see who had been eating loads of things in my garden, including my beans and came to the same conclusion of Capsid bug so many things peppered with holes. :(
    Sorry about your fuchsia
    K

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  5. I'm really sad to hear about your Fuschias as I know how much you love them.

    I think this might be what has been eating my Angelica gigas and also my peppers. The peppers have been ditched but the Angelica seems to be fighting back. I think I need to get that book - off to vsit Amazon!

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  6. I can just picture the bugs seeing you coming and hurling themselves onto the soil in camouflage mode. I'm sure Nature enjoys winding gardeners up!

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  7. I'm not a huge fan of the fuchsia. We did inherit a hardy variety which faithfully appears every year, although by the end of the flowering season, the foliage has usually succumbed to mildew. I had a few small, less hardy ones in pots, also inherited, but these didn't make it through our cold, wet winter. x

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  8. How upsetting for you. Lets hope they rejuvenate and you get a later flowering.

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  9. Sometimes it's wise to be patient, though it's very hard. How long did it take you to recover from the winter. Sometimes it seems ours never truly ended but at least we aren't freezing every night here anymore...

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  10. Emmat - Fuchsias are one of my faves too. I think it might be too late for the Bugclear - I need to be a bit better with my autumn tidy up around the plants instaed.

    Juliet - I've got an earlier (and cheaper!) edition of the book. It's a good 'un.

    Mark - welcome and thanks for Following :) I looked at that sentence at the time and thought hmm it's 2 weeks until it's officially late summer, I wonder if anyone will notice?, so of course you did! Thanks for the compliment - it's good to have someone reading this who's also local. I've lurked over at yours from time to time and I think we have similar views about where we live ;)

    Karen - it looks like it's a good year for capsid bigs this year. It's the first time I've had a problem with them though.

    PG - yes I do love them and at least some of them will be flowering, eventually. I reckon I've lost about a month's worth of blooms :(

    EG - I can just imagine the lookout shouting down! just as I arrive! Thanks for making me chuckle :)

    TIMP - I've never heard of Fuchsia getting mildew. Must be a sign they're not happy where they are, so you can get rid of them and grow something you prefer.

    Joanne - thank you - they're looking better by the day :)

    Cinj - I didn't really know the full extent of my winter casualties until late May which is when the Dahlias started poking through and I could no longer kid myself that one of my tree ferns might, just might start growing again. I think that's why the RHS have been wise not to make their hardiness survey available until now. I would have been giving a very different result (and much bleaker) a couple of months ago.

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