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Pests and Diseases

We invest so much time in our outdoor spaces making it incredibly disheartening when our favourite varieties are struck by disease or destroyed by pests. We have put together a guide to help you prevent and treat areas struck by pesky pests and diseases:

  • Choose the right plants: Ensure that you source plants with built-in resistance. Our plant descriptions will always specify pest resistance of individual varieties.
  • Water in the morning: Many diseases will form in damp, cool environments.Water plants in the morning to provide them with a chance to dry off before cooler temperatures prevail at nightfall.Water plants directly at the base, targeting the soil and not the foliage.
  • Maintain optimum health: Plants are much like humans where disease is more prevalent and susceptible when health is not at its peak. Plants should be kept fed and watered on a regular basis to maintain and regain strength. Spray and remove any area that you fear are affected by disease and continue to water and feed.
  • MulchSoil-borne diseases are stifled by mulch, preventing fungi from transferring to foliage.
  • Remove and destroy an existing diseased plant: Cut out diseased growth as soon as this becomes evident and to prevent the infection from spreading to companion plants. Cut back to the base of a healthy bud or unaffected area of foliage.
  • Keep tools sanitized: Thoroughly clean and sterilize all tools and equipment to prevent the disease from spreading. If diseased plants have been kept in pots and containers, use a sterilizing tablet with boiling hot water and rinse thoroughly to cleanse.
  • Keep fertilization under control: It is always best to encourage a slow growing process, taking care when regulating the volume of fertiliser provided.


Typical Garden Pests:


Deer are highly inquisitive feeders, causing destruction amongst flower beds and borders. They will often graze overnight, rarely seen during the day with new plants being at the most risk. They will often strip plants of their foliage, bark and flowers leaving them bare and dilapidated.

Prevention: Erect physical barriers such as netting or fencing, although these will need to be strong and relatively high to completely prevent access. Make sure they are fixed securely into the ground as deer can squeeze through tight gaps. Natural repellants such as garlic, rotten eggs and hot pepper may be an option although often a less desirable one.


Foxes are prevalent in both the countryside and in urban areas. Although less likely to feed on your plants, foxes will trample over flower beds and borders, hunting small birds and mammals which can often leave a nasty trail of destruction.

Prevention: Once foxes inhabit your garden, it is difficult to keep them out. There is little in terms of natural repellants although you should cover up any holes dug as they will use this to create a habitat, whilst securing boundaries and fixing broken fencing or parameter structures.


Mice and voles will both cause damage within your gardens, sheds and greenhouses. They will often target fruit, vegetables, bulbs, corms, seeds, stems and bark from woody plants. Voles will create shallow tunnels underground giving lawns a soft and bumpy surface, much like a mole. Mice will often be see on ground level but will often leave small holes in flower beds and borders.

Prevention: Mice can be deterred by trapping, although this is a little trickier when dealing with voles. Leave out sweetly scented food items such as peanut butter or chocolate for mice and carrots for voles. Position and secure traps so that other animals do not interfere and become harmed.


Rabbits are nosy creatures and are often attracted to new plants, shrubs and trees. Rabbits can be particularly destructive creatures, causing considerable damage as they feed on ornamentals, fruits and vegetables. Most rabbits will decide to inhabit your garden overnight although some can be active during the day.

Prevention: Rabbits can be deterred from entering your garden through tougher means than the remedy for slugs and snails. You may wish to erect fencing or netting, especially if your garden adjoins farms or woodland. If you sense that rabbits have inhabited your gardens, remove taller growing grasses or low growing shrubs, where rabbits keep their habitat. Household pets are a handy prevention technique to deter rabbits from the garden.


Slugs and snails are one of the most common garden pests, causing havoc with some of our garden favourites. However, you may be surprised to know that they can be fussy feeders and this is where we need to take advantage. Slugs and snails dislike plants that are hairy, tough or waxy as this causes difficulty for these lazy eaters. Heavily scented plants are also a no-go zone for slugs so plants such as lavender and rosemary are perfect.

Prevention: Try to enforce a strict watering regime for first thing in the morning, watering at the base. Apply a layer of finely crushed egg shells around the base of your plants to create a sharp thoroughfare or mulch generously with seaweed, salt or sharp grit.


You either love or hate the common grey squirrel. They are amusing to watch from afar but from within the garden they can destroy a wide range of ornamental plants, fruit and vegetables.

Prevention: It is not possible for squirrels to stop entering the garden completely although you can protect fruiting plants and vegetable patches with netting to limit any damage. This should also be undertaken to cover newly planted bulbs and corms as squirrels tend to dig them up. Animal repellant substances and scaring devices can be used short term although they are not a feasible long-term solution as many animals become accustomed to such sound.


Typical Garden Diseases:


  Disease Symptoms Non - chemical treatment
A Antirrhinum rust Foliage - pale yellow spots form on upper leaf surface with dark brown spots on lower surface. Remove infected areas as soon as they are realised and destroy effectively.
    Stems - Pustules form in abundance.  
  Arbutus leaf spot Foliage - small purple leaf spots or yellowing leaves. Remove infected area as soon as they are realised and destroy effectively.
    Stem - purple lumps. Feed, mulch and conserve moisture of plants to retain optimum health.
  Aquilegia downy mildew Foliage - yellow patches that colour change to brown as the disease progresses with a white fungal growth on lower leaves. Dispose of infected plants by burning them. Do not replant Aquilegia within infected site for at least 1 year due to soil contamination.
    Flowers - appear sodden and out of shape. Sterilize pots containing affected Aquilegia and replace with fresh compost.
    Stems - purple blotches appear.  
C Camellia flower blight Flowers - brown markings appear on petals that eventually destroy the entire flower. Petals develop a black fungus at the base. Clear fallen leaves as you see them to reduce contamination. Apply a generous and deep layer of mulch to aid in soil cleansing.
  Camellia leaf blight Foliage - leaves turn brown and fall prematurely. A profusion of black fruiting bodies develops over the damaged area which become worse in wet or humid conditions. Remove affected areas and destroy immediately. Make sure foliage is not left wet or soaking, watering at the base of your plant. Prune out infected branches and sterilize tools between each cut.
  Clematis wilt Foliage - stalks turn black and start to wilt which can affect the centre of the stems. Black fungal matter can be found when the stem is split. Remove affected stems and destroy, sterilizing all tools between each cut. Mulch deeply to retain moisture levels and minimize root stress.
  Coral spot Wood - branches die back and pustules form on bark. Prune affected areas until you reach healthy wood. Sterilize tools between each incision.
  Crown gall Herbaceous: swollen tissues (galls) form on root and stems that eventually decay and collapse. Lift and destroy infected plants immediately and keep areas clear for 1-2 years to eradicate detrimental bacteria from the soil.
    Woody Plants: swollen tissues (galls) form and harden.  
D Downy mildew Foliage - white, grey or purple growth that closely resemble mould-like spores' form on upper leaf surface. Remove and destroy infected areas immediately. Remove surrounding weeds and avoid planting companion plants too close. Keep well ventilated and dry, watering only at the base in the morning.
E Escallonia leaf spot Foliage - purple and black leaf spots form with a grey centre. Foliage will eventually turn yellow and fall. Remove affected foliage and destroy immediately. Cut plants back hard, providing regular feed and water.
F Fuchsia rust Foliage - yellow spots form on upper leaf with orange pustules on lower surface. Foliage will eventually die and fall. Remove affected foliage as soon as possible and destroy immediately. Provide additional feed.
H Hellebore black death Foliage, flowers and stem - black patterns and streaks form across all areas of the plant, stunting new growth. Remove entire plant immediately and destroy effectively.
  Hellebore leaf spot Foliage - dead brown patches form. Remove all affected foliage and destroy including infected foliage surrounding the plants as this will spread.
    Stems - dead brown patches form causing stems to limp.  
  Heuchera rust Foliage and leaf stalks - brown spots or pustules appear on upper leaf surface that change colour when exposed to humid conditions. Young growth may appear distorted. Remove affected foliage and destroy appropriately and immediately.
L Leafy gall Stems and shoots - clusters of shoots will develop in a distorted and disorganised fashion. Root development and bud volume may be stunted. Remove affected areas immediately and destroy appropriately. Sterilize pots and tools that have been in contact with affected plants.
P Pelargonium rust Foliage - yellow spots or lumps appear on upper leaf surface, transforming to rust spores. This can eventually cause the leaves to fall. Keep plants cool and dry.
  Peony wilt Foliage, stems and stalks - brown patches appear which can cause the leaves to wilt. Remove affected areas as soon as they are realised and burn to reduce air and soil contamination.
    Flowers - infected buds will fail to thrive and most will not open.  
  Powdery mildew Foliage - pale, powdery patches appear across upper and lower leaf surface. Destroy affected foliage immediately. Water well and apply a generous layer of mulch to retain moisture levels.
  Primula leaf spot Foliage - yellow patches appear on upper leaf surface with pale fungal patches on lower surface. Infected patches may eventually lead to holes in the affected areas. Remove and destroy infected foliage immediately and effectively.
R Rose black spot Foliage - purple and black patches surrounded by a bright yellow outer ring appear on upper leaf surface. Destroy all affected leaves and prune out stem lesions before new growth appears.
  Rose rust Foliage and stems - yellow patches appear on upper leaf surface. Leaves and stems will form orange pustules on lower surface which eventually turn black and cause leaves to drop. Destroy affected leaves and prune infected areas to prevent the spreading of spores.
S Snowdrop grey mould Foliage and flowers - furry grey mould spores appear across all areas of your plant. Remove and destroy affected bulbs as soon as infection is detected. Refrain from planting new snowdrops in areas where disease has been previously evident.
  Sweet pea virus Foliage - clear or mottled patches form on leaves. Remove affected plants and destroy immediately. Maintain good growing conditions and sterilize tools between pruning.
T Tulip fire Foliage - brown patches appear on leaf surface. Distorted growth and shape. Furry grey mould that form in particularly damp conditions. Remove infected bulbs immediately and do not plant new tulips in the same area for 3 years (If the disease is grey bulb rot do not replant for 5 years).


How to dispose of diseased matter?


  • Burning: In certain instances, you may wish to burn diseased material where it is safe and legal to do so. Do not leave infected matter amongst bonfire piles but instead please destroy as quickly as you possibly can. Please consider weather conditions when burning such materials, ensuring the least amount of disturbance for neighbours etc.
  • Burial: You may wish to bury infected material so long as you are not submerging material that contain soil-borne disease. You may wish to reconsider the fate of any woody material as this may be slow to decompose beneath the soil surface.
  • Composting: Less serious and persistent diseases can be composted. Common fungal diseases will often die once the original plant has completely decomposed.
  • Refuse site: Where you cannot burn, or bury infected material, you may need to take affected plants to a recycling centre where they can be disposed of affectively.

If, for any reason you are not delighted with your purchase, just return it to us within 21 days.

We promise to exchange the item or return the price you paid for the item in full. This is in addition to your statutory rights.

Hayloft Plants will not agree to refunding the costs of returning the parcel to us.

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