Fuchsia Gall Mite is Controllable
Director and Past President of the AFS
Elsie and I joined the American Fuchsia Society in 1985 and the AFS Board of Directors in 1989. As Directors we visited all fuchsia branches and presented programs from Los Angles, CA to Vancouver, BC. and Bristol UK
We soon learned that some fuchsia growers are dead set in their opinions of what works best for their fuchsias. They advocated the use of products that were not recommended by the manufacturer. They touted how well their fuchsias performed. I asked where is the data to confirm your statements? To what did you compare it? Was there a control group? Never were their opinions verified or documented.
In the 1980s fuchsia gall mite struck fiercely in California raising havoc with fuchsias and many less dedicated growers quit raising them. Today, though, fuchsias are still being grown and widely available all along the Pacific Coast.
At the AFS 2004 Convention I talked with various growers from California to Vancouver BC. It appears gall mite is still a problem in California and along the Oregon coast. Washington and Vancouver have few instances of it. According to Will Gibbs, past president of the NWFS, they throw out the diseased plant. This appears to be sound advice where so few plants are affected by gall mite. When it does occur a spraying with pesticide would be recommended. Growers in the Santa Clara Valley feel the gall mite is prevalent. Eureka and Crescent City members said this was an especially bad year in respect to the mite.
Dr. Peter Baye, Ph.D. Botany, of the American Fuchsia Society has written articles on fuchsia gall mite and has hybridized fuchsias that are gall mite resistant. He recommended that 70% rubbing alcohol mixed with water would control the fuchsia mite. (AFS Bulletin May/June 2003, page 10)
Early 2004, I decided to try his method and keep records. This project started in late March and the results evaluated in mid-September. All fuchsias had been sprayed in November and December with Volck Oil to smother any pests on the plants. This is the first step the AFS recommends for Gall Mite control.
The spray mix was one part 70% alcohol to four parts water. I added liquid kelp and water-soluble fertilizer to the mixture per manufactures instruction. (Kelp and fertilizer are not a control of gall mite. Foliar feeding is a supplementary feeding and does not replace regular fertilizing of the plants.)
Beginning in March all fuchsias were sprayed with this mixture when an appearance of gall mite, aphids or white fly occurred.
Was the gall mite controlled using this method? Yes. The garden had 144 fuchsia plants in it, sixteen of which were mite resistant, 11% of the total. Only 8% of the fuchsias were affected by fuchsia gall mite in the test period. During June, July and August five plants per month were affected by gall mite. Eleven individual plants were infected, six showed damage again later and two plants were discarded because they continued to show severe galling.
In our garden this method of control works. But my neighbors do not grow any fuchsias so the wind and hummingbirds do not transmit it.
At the fuchsia convention, growers in northern California spoke of having problems because too many fuchsias in their neighborhoods were not cared for and the gall mite grew abundantly. The wind and hummingbirds easily transmitted it. Would this method work in that situation? Maybe and maybe not. It can only be proven if growers are willing to try it and keep detailed records to confirm the outcome
The program would have to begin in November, counting all fuchsia and using Volck Oil on all plants during their dormant stage and again when the plants are repotted and free of all new growth. I would spray when the plants leaf out with the alcohol mix and then determine a spraying schedule. Each out break of gall mite needs to be recorded,
This experiment in gall mite control as with any published experiment must be duplicated and confirmed by growers to prove its validity.
Al Sydnor, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org