Who to contact
Please do not send samples of suspected Xylella to the RHS
If you suspect that Xylella fastidiosa could be present in your garden you should not attempt to control the disease yourself. Collect together all available details including the host plant name, symptoms, origin, and import history and report your suspicions to the relevant plant health authority whose details can be found on the UK Plant Health Information Portal.
If you are an RHS member and have a plant health concern, please contact us via the Gardening Advice Service.
What happens if Xylella arrives in the UK?
If Xylella is confirmed in the UK, the UK government will implement EU regulations for control of Xylella.
If infection is detected at an early stage and is not thought to have spread, the infection will be classed as an ‘interception’. In the case of an ‘interception’ the infected plants will be destroyed, host plants in close proximity will also be destroyed, and further surveys will be undertaken.
If the infection is thought to have spread beyond the initial infection point then it will be classed as an ‘outbreak’ and more severe containment procedures will be followed. Control measures following diagnosis of an ‘outbreak’ include: destruction of host plants within 100 m, a 5 km buffer zone with restricted movement of ‘specified’ plants for 5 years, and control of the insects which spread the disease.
The severity of the damage caused by Xylella if it arrives in the UK is impossible to predict.
Three subspecies of Xylella have been detected in Europe. Xylella fastidiosa subspecies multiplex, which has been found in a number of sites in Spain and France, is thought to pose the highest risk to the UK. This subspecies has higher climatic tolerance in cooler temperate regions and has the widest host range of the subspecies.
What is the RHS doing?
Prevention is better than a cure and the RHS working alongside the UK government and horticultural industry to prevent the introduction of Xylella into the UK.
The RHS is advising its staff and home gardeners through numerous media outputs; we are continuing to work closely with the UK plant health service; we are ensuring exhibitors at RHS shows are educated about plant health threats; and high risk plants are held in reception areas on entry to RHS gardens and inspected for disease.
All RHS Plant Centres have signed up to the industry (Horticultural Trade Association) best practice guidelines on sourcing plant material to reduce the risk of Xylella arriving in the UK. The RHS is also funding and co-supervising a PhD with Imperial College London to understand how to communicate the risks posed by Xylella with the public and policy-makers.