Fuchsia diseases or pests.
All of my fuchsias seem to have some kind of disease or pest this year. I first noticed it in my hanging baskets but now it is on my 2 huge old fuchsia trees too. I am fairly new to flower gardening and I haven’t been able to find much on the web. It starts with weird stunted curling leaves. The plant will still flower but it looks mutated and weird. Any help would be appreciated. Especially for the trees, they are so old and big I would just hate to see them die.
This might be due to fuchsia gall mites. These mites are spread easily by birds (such as hummingbirds) and bees. They hide in the folds of developing leaves and may be difficult to see without a hand lens. Their feeding cause leaf distortion and galls that start out light green but redden with age. Here is an information sheet from Oregon State. http://oregonstate.edu/dept/nurspest/Fuchsia_gall_mite.htm
You can try pruning out all the effected branches. Dispose in bags in the garbage to prevent spread of mites, sanitize your tools with alcohol, and thoroughly wash hands. Mites can be spread on clothing also. After pruning, you can try spraying with insecticidal soap and/or horticultural oil. Spray only when bees are NOT present (evening) as the spray could harm these pollinators if they contact it. Repeat spraying will probably be necessary. You need to repeat the pruning and spraying on all effected plants if possible. The best defense is to eventually plant mite-resistant cultivars.
Thank you for your response. Do you think this is due to the unusually warm weather in Bandon? Will the bugs die off in the winter?
The fuchsia gall mites have been spreading in the cool coastal areas north from central California since the 1980's. As noted, they are spread by birds, bees, wind, and other means.
There is no certainty that they will die off in the winter. Some studies have shown that there is significant mite mortality with temps in the low 20's F over a few days but all seems to be dependent on where the mites are overwintering.