The fuchsia is a small shrub grown for the striking, pendulous flowers that cover it from late spring until frost. The showy, tubular blooms are often multicoloured and attract hummingbirds. Occasionally, however, even the most well-tended fuchsia plants succumb to disease, which negatively affects the plant's foliage and flowers. Recognising the signs and symptoms of infection allows you to effectively treat the problem and bring your fuchsia back to health.
Botrytis blight is a fungal disease that causes brown spots on leaves and results in flowers that become covered in grey, powdery mould. The disease is prevalent and easily spread during cool, rainy spring and summer weather. Manage botrytis blight by regularly checking the fuchsia for signs of disease. When conditions are dry, remove and dispose of infected plant parts or entire plants in a sealed paper or plastic bag. Prevent botrytis blight by not overhead watering or misting fuchsias, and applying preventive fungicides when spring conditions are moist and cool.
Crown gall is a disease that causes galls, or unnatural growths, at the base of fuchsia stems, on the root crown or on leaves. Not only are the galls unsightly, they inhibit water and nutrient transportation throughout the plant. Preventing crown gall is your best defence. As the disease only enters through fresh wounds, always clean your pruning tools before trimming a fuchsia plant with a solution of nine parts water to one part bleach.
Damping-off is a fungal disease caused by Rhizoctonia and Pythium pathogens. This condition is especially damaging to fuchsia seedlings, whose stems rot at or below the soil line. As the name suggests, the condition is prevalent during damp weather. Rhizoctonia pathogens tend to attack during warm conditions while pythium occurs when temperatures are cool. Prevent damping-off by providing the fuchsia with proper drainage, only watering when the top 5 cm (2 inches) of soil has dried, and avoiding planting during damp weather.
Fuchsia rust is a fungal disease that causes brown spotting on the underside of the plant's leaves; the spots eventually enlarge and cover the leaf with a rust-like powder. Infected leaves drop. Prevent fuchsia rust by keeping the planting area clear of disease-harbouring weeds, such as fireweed. Avoid wetting the plant's foliage, and apply a preventive fungicide in the spring.
Phytophthora is a fungal infection common in wet soils that causes rotting of the fuchsia's roots and crowns. The plant becomes weak and appears to require watering despite wet soil. Foliage yellows and the plant may eventually die. Prevent phytophthora by providing fuchsias with proper drainage and only watering when the top 5 cm (2 inches) of soil has dried. Apply copper-containing fungicides to leaves to prevent foliar infections of phytophthora.
- Clemson University Cooperative Extension: Fuchsia
- Cornell University Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic: Botrytis blight
- University of California Integrated Pest Management Program: Crown gall
- University of California Integrated Pest Management Program: Damping-off
- University of California Integrated Pest Management Program: Fuchsia disease control outline
- University of California Integrated Pest Management Program: Phytophthora root and crown rots