Warn­ings against bring­ing plants home from hol­i­days

Sunderland Echo - - What To Do This Week -

The RHS and De­fra are ask­ing hol­i­day­mak­ers not to bring plants back in their hand bag­gage from hol­i­days, say­ing it could in­tro­duce new pests and dis­eases to the UK.

Mil­lions of plants en­ter the coun­try legally, bought by tourists, lead­ing to fears that prob­lem in­sects and bac­terium like Xylella fas­tid­iosa could find their way into our gar­dens.

A sur­vey by the RHS re­veals that of more than half (57 per cent) of re­spon­dents plan­ning to travel abroad in the next 12 months, nearly one in ten (nine per cent) would con­sider bring­ing a plant back with them, equiv­a­lent to 2.5 mil­lion peo­ple.

Im­port­ing plants is al­ready sub­ject to some re­stric­tions that vary de­pend­ing on coun­try of travel and plant type, lead­ing the RHS and De­fra to buy plants in the UK in­stead.

Fuch­sia gall mite is now rife in the South East has been at­trib­uted to an en­thu­si­ast il­le­gally im­port­ing cut­tings from South Amer­ica.

There are more than 1,000 pests and dis­eases on the plant health risk reg­is­ter while Xylella – a bac­terium which is known to af­fect more than 350 species, in­clud­ing laven­der, hebe and rose­mary – has been found in Italy, France and Spain.

De­fra will launch the ‘Don’t Risk It’ cam­paign this sum­mer to raise aware­ness of the risks of bring­ing back cut flow­ers, fruit, veg­eta­bles and plant ma­te­rial from hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions.

Sue Biggs, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the RHS, said: “For many peo­ple, wan­der­ing the olive groves of Italy and laven­der fields of France are as much apartofthe­hol­i­day­ex­pe­ri­enceas­the cities and beaches.

“We’re ask­ing peo­ple to leave these beau­ti­ful plants where they are for fu­ture vis­i­tors to en­joy and not to bring them back home with them. This is vi­tal if we are go­ing to win the fight to pro­tect our gar­dens against the grow­ing threat of pests and dis­eases.”

De­fra chief plant health of­fi­cer, Ni­cola Spence, said: “Our in­spec­tors now make more in­ter­cep­tions of harm­ful or­gan­isms than any other EU mem­ber state but we can’t elim­i­nate all risks and we all have a part to play in pro­tect­ing our plants and trees.

“Through our ‘Don’t Risk It’ cam­paign we’ll be ask­ing ev­ery­one to en­joy the ex­otic plants and flow­ers they see on their hol­i­days – but only bring them back to the UK in their mem­o­ries and pic­tures.’’ For more in­for­ma­tion visit www. rhs.org.uk

For more in­for­ma­tion, plus cook what you grow, recipes, en­vi­ron­men­tal news and more, log on to the web­site at www.mandy­canudigit. com – which is also now smart­phone friendly.

You can also fol­low Mandy on Twit­ter @Mandy­CanUDigIt or you can like me on my Face­book page at Mandy­canudigit

Banana di­vi­sions on sale in Fun­chal, Madeira.

Laven­der, which is sus­cep­ti­ble to Xylella in­fec­tion.

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