A ripe apple on the tree with a hole eaten by birds

What’s wrong with my flowers and fruit?

Use our visual identification guide to find out what's wrong, if you've spotted problems on your plants.

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.

Fasciation produces distorted stems or flowers and is caused by frost, infection or mutation.

Earwig holes

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

Codling moth

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

Rose balling

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

Wasp holes

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

Apple sawfly

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

Bird pecking

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 such as a scarecrow
  • 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

Long-term solutions

  • 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