PotWatch, is a campaign to highlight the role the importation of pot plants plays in establishing invasive species in the UK.  In the first stage of this campaign we are asking you to record countries of origin of plants you purchase at your local garden centre.

We’d also like you to keep a look out for flatworms in the plants you purchase. To help you we’ve created a basic guide to flatworms downloadable from this page. When you’re re-potting your plants keep an eye out for flatworms and their eggs and send in photos of any you find.

In November 2016 an invasive flatworm from Brazil, already a threat to agriculture across France, the Obama flatworm (Obama nungara), was found in a pot plant at a garden centre in Oxfordshire.

The Obama flatworm, which grows up to 7cm long, is a predator of earthworms and land snails, thereby endangering soil fertility and wildlife.  A 4.5 cm worm was spotted in a potted Heuchera, imported from the Netherlands.

In some areas invasive flatworms have reduced earthworm populations by 20%. Damage from invasive species such as flatworms is calculated to cost the UK £1.8 billion per annum.

Over £1 billion pounds of live plants are imported into the UK every year, for the vast majority there are no biosecurity measures to exclude or check for eggs or hibernating animals in the soil. Indeed the UK has a £1 billion trade deficit for pot plants.

Consumers should buy British to avoid aiding and abetting biosecurity breaches.  Peat use and neonicotinoid contamination are other environmental issues associated with the pot plant industry. As this campaign develops we will be looking more closely into these other aspects.

Obama nungara (c) Richard Lewington

Explore the map and click on the circles to find out more about the survey submission.

Want to take part?

Submit your findings here, then after review we’ll publish your finding on the map above.

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Drop files here or
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

    Help us to stop the extinction of invertebrate species

    Become a member

    From £36 per year, membership directly supports our vital conservation work. In return you receive member benefits and our bi-annual Buzz magazine.


    Donate to support us

    Our work would not be possible without your support. Bees and other invertebrates need help to reverse the catastrophic declines in their numbers. Please donate today and together we can restore vital habitats and rebuild strong populations of invertebrates in the UK.

    Make a donation today

    Engage with our work

    Follow us on the social networks, or sign up to receive our email newsletter so we can you keep you up-to-date with our work