It won’t be long until your beautiful hostas begin to poke their heads up from their winter slumber. If you have a shady garden, it’s highly likely that some of these plants decorate your garden. They may be hand-me-downs from your grandma or some of the newly bred cultivars. Either way, they could be infected by a virus known as Hosta Virus X.
Many of the hostas that are grown by commercial growers come from Holland where they are grown in large operations. The Dutch are infamous for growing magnificent plants but in any large scale operation, the chances of spreading diseases from plant to plant is increased. Hosta Virus X is often spread when the plants are cultivated or being dug for bareroot shipments. As the machinery works the rows, plant leaves are damaged and the juice from one plant is spread to the open wounds of the next. This is how Hosta Virus X is spread.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HOSTA VIRUS X?
There is a typical virus pattern on the leaves with strange mottling and weird patterns that are not usually seen on the hosta in question. The leaves can be mottled and strangely wrinkled. Before this Hosta Virus X was discovered, many breeders thought that they were onto something new. The mottling was interesting in appearance so the plants were thought to be new and unique. Unfortunately, it was Hosta Virus X that was causing these “neat” new looks.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOUR PLANTS ARE INFECTED?
Unfortunately, it can take years for the virus to rear its ugly head but when it does, the plant needs to be destroyed immediately. Testing for the disease isn’t practical and generally once you have seen Hosta Virus X it is easy to spot the next time. After you’ve dried your tears from pitching some of your favorite hostas, make sure that you don’t infect the rest of your plants. As we talked about earlier, Hosta Virus X is spread by transferring plant juice (doesn’t that sound scientific?) from an infected plant to another hosta plant. Make sure that you take every precaution to not infect your clean plants: wear gloves, bag and dispose of infected plants, and clean your tools well.
I found a great resource online that details Hosta Virus X and the varieties that it is commonly found on. Let me know if you have any experience with this virus…something tells me that many Mid-Atlantic Gardening readers do. Leave me a comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy gardening!