Dr Rebekah Robinson

Rebekah works in plant health diagnostics and provides advice to members from descriptions, photos and samples of their unhealthy plants

What do you do?

I examine descriptions, photographs and samples of unhealthy plants in order to diagnose the problem and advise on treatment. Sometimes a plant is beyond recovery, but often a simple change to the growing environment is enough to reduce the damage. Sometimes pathogens can cause dramatic symptoms but no significant harm to the plant – for example, pear rust (Gymnosporangium sabinae). I can then reassure the enquirer that no action is needed.

Occasionally, we receive enquiries that suggest a new pest or disease in the UK. In these cases, I will assess the biosecurity risk, and where necessary, escalate it to the relevant plant health authorities.

“Plant health often seems like a scary or inaccessible topic, but I try to provide simple practical steps that people can follow to ensure their plants stay healthy”

Why is your team’s research important?

The Plant Health gardening advice service provides personalised advice for RHS members, empowering them to grow healthy plants while providing us with an overview of trends and changes in pests and diseases across the UK. We receive enquiries from keen and knowledgeable gardeners, who are often the first to notice something that looks new or unusual. We have been able to diagnose many new pests and diseases from members’ enquiries, leading to new research projects, collaboration with plant health authorities and prompt containment of biosecurity risks.


  • I am keen to bridge the gap between horticulture and pathology, and have an RHS Level 3 Diploma in Horticulture with Commendation, awarded in September 2022
  • My work has involved regular interactions with industry bodies and nurseries. I have presented at numerous meetings, including AHDB grower meetings, SE and London Tree Events, and the HTA Plant Healthy launch
  • I was in charge of the project management, content and development of the RHS and BBC Gardeners’ Question Time ‘Bloomin’ Healthy’ show garden at the 2018 Chatsworth Show. I worked with BBC GQT presenter Pippa Greenwood and designer Stephen Hall to produce a show garden that demonstrated best practices for plant health


  • Vazquez-Iglesias, I, McGreig, S, Pufa, l H, Robinson, R, Clover, GRG, Fox, A, Boonham, N, Adams, IP (2022) A novel high-throughput sequencing approach reveals the presence of a new virus infecting Rosa: rosa ilarvirus-1 (RIV-1). J Virol Methods, 300, p114417
  • Newbery, F, Robinson, RJ, Beal, E, Scrace, J (2020) First record of Septoria rudbeckiae on Rudbeckia in the United Kingdom. New Disease Reports, 42 (2)
  • Vazquez-Iglesias, I, Scrace, J, McGreig, S, Pufal, H, Robinson, R, Clover, GRG, Adams, IP, Boonham, N, Fox, A (2020) First report of rose spring dwarf-associated virus in Rosa spp. in United Kingdom. New Disease Reports, 42 (13)
  • Vazquez-Iglesias, I, Ochoa-Corona, FM, Tang, J, Robinson, RJ, Clover, GRG, Fox, A, Boonham, N (2020) Facing rose rosette virus: A risk to European rose cultivation. Plant Pathology, 69, pp1603–1617
  • Vazquez-Iglesias, I, Adams, I.P, Hodgetts, J et al. (2019) High throughput sequencing and RT-q PCR assay reveal the presence of rose cryptic virus-1 in the United Kingdom. Journal of Plant Pathology, 101, pp1171–1175
  • Robinson, RJ (2017) Xylella: a serious threat to UK horticulture. The Garden (RHS members' magazine), September 2017
  • Robinson, R and Cox, T (2017) Revisiting... sweet peas, a study of white mould (Ramularia deusta), Sweet Pea Annual, 2017
  • Robinson, RJ, Könyves, K, Scrace, J (2017) First record of the fungus Blumeriella kerriae in the UK. New Disease Reports, 35, p34
  • Ellingham, O, Denton, GJ, Denton, JO, Robinson, RJ (2016) First report of Podosphaera macrospora on Heuchera in the United Kingdom. New Disease Reports, 33, p23
  • Robinson, RJ et al. (2016) Wheat seed embryo excision enables the creation of axenic seedlings and Koch’s postulates testing of putative bacterial endophytes. Scientific Reports, 6
  • Robinson, RJ (2016) Xylella fastidiosa (Pierce's disease of grapevine). CABI Compendium: Invasive Species

Get involved

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.