Xylella - What You Need to Know

I don’t want to be a Scrooge figure but just before you get stuck into the mince pies and sprouts, take a minute or two to think about your garden. Chances are you will need a plant or two to bulk up a border or redesign a bed in the coming year. But that’s where you need to sit back, take a breath and consider where the plants come from.



Almond tree with xylella diseaseThe thing is there’s a new disease on the block and it causing British nursery folk sleepless nights. It’s a disease called xylella (pronounced zy-lell-a) and it means curtains for some plants.



The disease isn’t in British nurseries but is currently in certain plants in parts of France, Germany and Italy. All those countries export plants to the UK. It isn’t a massive leap to realise that if gardeners plant plants that have been grown in such areas could, and it is could, be introducing the disease to our gardens. There is that danger.

British FlagHowever, if you only introduce plants that have been grown in the UK then you don’t have that worry. Here at GLG, we have always wanted to champion British nurseries, even before this disease rose to prominence. Every plant you get from us is grown in the UK. So that’s the answer. Buy British and keep xylella out (plants coming in from other countries should have a plant passport to say they have come in from ‘clean’ areas).

Xylella fastidious under the microscopeBut I know you are interested in gardening, horticulture and the wider picture. Bearing that in mind, here are a few other bits and pieces you might want to know when placing your X,Y,L,E,L,L and A tiles on the Scrabble board this Christmas:

  • It’s a bacterial disease and enters plants via plant sucking insects.
  • It gets into the xylem of certain plants (think of xylem as the arteries of the plant carrying water around) and blocks them.
  • Once a plant is infected it could wilt, branches can die back, leaves can scorch and the whole plant can die.
  • There’s a whole list of plants susceptible to xylella including oaks, hebes, lavender and rosemary. The current list, and it changes as more outbreaks are reported, can be found at: https://ec.europa.eu/food/sites/food/files/plant/docs/ph_biosec_legis_emergency_db-host-plants_update09.pdf

Olive tree in the Algarve infected with xylellaNow, let’s not be too alarmist about all of this. There are many other reasons why a plant wilts, exhibits scorched leaves, where branches die back and the whole lot kicks the bucket. Many other reasons. But if you are worried it could be xylella, and if you’re growing plants that have been grown in any of the countries I mentioned before there is that chance, then consider it could be this disease. If you need to report a suspected incident of the disease go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/animal-and-plant-health-agency

But having said all of that, remember that a British grown plant is safe and, in my opinion, is still the best quality plant you will ever buy. That’s why all our plants at GLG are grown in the UK. Let’s all keep it that way.

Now, pass the chocolate orange and Radio Times!