Garden and greenhouse enthusiasts planning to swap fuchsia plants and cuttings have been urged to exercise extreme caution.
According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), there is a pest attacking the plants that looks likely to spread across the country.
First detected approximately three years ago, Aculops fuchsiae is also known as fuchsia gall mite and has been appearing frequently in samples sent from the south of England to the RHS’ advisory service.
"This is a devastating pest because it destroys the plant’s shoot tips and flowers," explained RHS principal entomologist Andrew Halstead.
He explained that no currently available pesticides are able to control it and noted that the Food and Environment Research Agency has yet to take any action against infestations in private gardens, meaning the spread of the pest could occur quickly over the next few years.
Spread by the wind, the tiny mite can also be transported by bees visiting flowers on infested plants.
Growers should watch out for a gradual reddening of leaves, which eventually become deformed and swollen until new growth stops entirely.
Meanwhile, the RHS noted that the British conker is under threat from a disease attacking horse chestnut trees.