The bounty of flowers and fruit that summer brings can be affected by hungry pests or weather extremes causing harm.
Sometimes the cause is obvious, but damage could also have been inflicted months ago, with the effects only showing now.
Take a look at our visual identification guide as we help you answer the question, ‘what’s wrong with my plants?’, below.
Ragged holes in petals made by earwigs. Dahlias are susceptible. Trap in a hay-stuffed upturned pot to create an earwig trap.
A red dahlia flower with ragged holes in its petals, eaten by earwigs
Tunnels in apples/pears made by the caterpillars of codling moths, as fruit ripens. Set up pheromone traps in May.
Pruning off an immature apple that has been tunnelled by a codling moth caterpillar
Rain then hot sun dries outer petals, preventing the rose buds opening. If you spot rose bloom balling, remove the affected buds promptly.
A withered rose bloom that has perished due to rose bloom balling
Slug grazing on fruit
Slugs eat holes inside or outside fruit, causing distortion. Watch for slugs at night and set beer traps.
A ripening chilli pepper with a hole eaten by slugs
Wasps eat into soft fruits, such as plums, or enlarge bird damage in apples/pears. Enclose the best fruit in muslin bags.
A wasp eating a plum
Disfigured by virus
Distorted, streaked or unopened blooms and leaves, caused by a virus. This includes canna virus (pictured). Spread by sap-suckers. Remove and destroy plant.
A canna flower with petals damaged by canna virus
Rhododendron bud blast
Unopened rhododendron buds go brown. Fungal disease spread by leafhoppers. Pick off buds to reduce the spread.
A rhododendron bud browned due to rhododendron bud blast
Sawfly maggots tunnel into fruits, causing scarring or fruitlet drop. Spray straight after petal fall, but no later.
A red apple with a brown scarred ring caused by sawfly larvae tunnelling beneath the skin
Slug grazing on flowers
Uneven holes eaten in blooms during the night. Sometimes trails. Cut off blooms and set up traps.
Holes in and slug trails on a marigold flower
Fasciation produces distorted stems or flowers and is caused by frost, infection or mutation. Safely ignored, but cut off the stem if you’re bothered by it.
A fasciated stem of veronicastrum
Berries partly or completely eaten; holes pecked in large fruits. Use cages or netting to keep birds off.
A ripe apple on the tree with a hole eaten by birds
Quick fix solutions
- Inspect plants regularly. Picking off infected parts or pests early on can prevent a major infestation
- Barriers and deterrents stop further damage. Net soft fruit or put up bird scarers
- Trap or kill earwigs and slugs or hand-pick by torchlight
- Pick and bin damaged fruits or flowers to avoid secondary infections such as mould
- Prevention is better than a cure, so grow soft fruit in cages, and set traps or deter pests early on
- Clear weeds and dead/dying growth as they harbour pests, particularly slugs
- Keep fruit of the ground and use snail barriers or copper tape around plants
- Stressed plants are more susceptible to disease, so mulch and feed in winter and water when dry