Dr Matthew Cromey

Matthew develops strategies to manage the diseases threatening ornamental and edible crops in UK gardens. He also interprets the results of RHS science research to provide advice for our members and the public

What do you do?

My days are varied. I may be diagnosing and advising gardeners on their plant problems through RHS Gardening Advice, or out in the field running research projects to investigate better ways to manage some of the more important diseases in UK gardens.
A large part of my work is about developing disease management strategies for gardeners to use at home usually by combining the findings of RHS research with that from a range of other sources. I deliver talks on plant diseases, and collaborate with gardeners, garden organisations and other researchers to manage diseases in gardens.

“The future of disease management in gardens in the UK and around the world is in choosing the right plants for the right place, and managing their environment to favour the plant more than the pathogen.”

Why is your team’s research important?

Diseases and their symptoms can often be managed by optimising the way we grow plants and ensuring we are growing the right plant in the right place. My research puts science behind our advice. In turn, good advice enables gardeners to garden in an enjoyable and resilient way.

Projects I’m working on now

  • Contribution of cultivar and plant architecture to box blight management
  • Managing production and infectivity of Cylindrocladium buxicola spores
  • Determining the influence of weather on patterns of box blight epidemics
  • Influences of weather on plant disease incidence in gardens
  • Diagnostic guide to problems in garden trees and shrubs

Completed projects

  • Improved information on host susceptibility to Armillaria
  • Improved information on host susceptibility to Phytophthora


I’m always pleased when something I do minimises the impact of plant diseases in gardens, especially when it improves someone’s enjoyment of gardening as a result.


  • Yassin M, Ton J, Rolfe SA, Valentine TA, Cromey M, Holden N, Newton AC. (2021) The rise, fall and resurrection of chemical-induced resistance agents. Pest Management Science 77, pp3900–09.
    Rees HJ, Bashir N, Drakulic J, Cromey MG, Bailey AM, Foster GD (2020) Identification of native endophytic Trichoderma spp. for investigation of in vitro antagonism towards Armillaria mellea using synthetic and plant-based substrates. Journal of Applied Microbiology 131, pp392–403
  • Rees HJ, Drakulic J, Cromey M, GD, Bailey AM. (2020) Fungi for a healthy plant. The Plant Review 2020, pp50–53
  • Beal E, Waghorn I, Perry J, Clover G, Cromey M. (2020) Susceptibility of Garden Plants to Phytophthora Root Rot. Plant Disease
  • Sharp L, Hurst C, Drakulic J, Cromey M. (2020) Student project: Environmental influences on box blight epidemics. Sibbaldia,18, pp37–51
  • Cromey M, Drakulic J, Beal E, Waghorn I, Perry J, Clover G. (2019) Susceptibility of garden trees and shrubs to Armillaria root rot. Plant Disease, 104, pp483–92
  • Cromey M, Robinson R, Barter G, Clover G. (2016) Potential contribution of biological control to integrated management of plant diseases in UK gardens. Biological and integrated control of plant pathogens, IOBC-WPRS Bulletin, 117, p99
  • Bithell SL, McKay AC, Butler RC, Cromey M. (2016) Consecutive wheat sequences: effects of contrasting growing seasons on concentrations of Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici DNA in soil and take-all disease across different cropping sequences. Journal of Agricultural Science, 154, pp472–86
  • Stewart A, Cromey M. (2011) Identifying disease threats and management practices for bio-energy crops. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 3, pp75–80
  • O’Donnell K, Gueidan C, Sink S, Johnston P, Crous P, Glenn A, Riley R, Zitomer N, Colyer P, Waalwijk C, van der Lee T, Moretti A, Kang S, Kim HS, Geiser D, Juba J, Baayen R, Cromey M, Bithell S, Sutton D, Skovgaard K, Ploetz R, Corby Kistler H, Elliott M, Davis M, Sarver B. (2009) A two-locus DNA sequence database for typing plant and human pathogens within the Fusarium oxysporum species complex. Fungal Genetics and Biology, 46, pp936–48

PhD Students

  • Co-supervisor to Mustafa Yassin studying Benign Enhancement of Natural Defences: BEYOND at the University of Sheffield

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.