Jun 27 2011
By Ann Davenport
Hostas are a mainstay in our landscapes. They are a tough, reliable, “hassle-free” plant with what seems like thousands of varieties from which to choose. While hostas are considered to be relatively disease free, they are susceptible to a virus referred to as Hosta Virux X (HVX).
HVX was first identified in 1996 by Dr. Ben Lockhart at the University of Minnesota. It has become a common virus in hosta and is a concern to nurseries, garden centers, and home owners alike. Hosta Virus X is not transmitted through insects, nematodes, seed, or pollen transfer. Rather, the virus is transmitted mechanically through wounds resulting in sap to sap contact during dividing, transplanting, trimming, etc… Once a plant has HVX there is no cure and the plant must be destroyed.
HVX reduces plant vigor and most symptoms are displayed in a deterioration of leaf quality. Symptoms can include line patterns (often along veins), mosaic patterns, blotches, twisting or puckering of leaves, and necrotic (dead) spots. Symptoms vary among cultivars and may take years to develop.
Since there is no cure for HVX the best management strategy is to prevent the spread. Plants with the virus should be removed from the garden and destroyed. Do not compost infected plants as the virus can live in infected soil for up to two years. It is good practice to sterilize your tools regularly and it is especially recommended to do so between plants when cutting or dividing. Sterilization can be done by using a solution of Dawn dish soap, 70% alcohol solution, or a 10% bleach solution. In all cases it is not enough to simply dip the tool in the solution. Tools must be scrubbed clean of all dirt and debris.
Additional information can be found online by visiting American Hosta Society and University of Minnesota Extension Yard and Garden News.
annuals awards backyard bees birds books bulbs butterflies carpentry clean up commercial containers CSA design drought eco-friendly fabric fall fences frontyard furniture gardens hardiness infiltration insects maintenance mulch native plants people perennials permeable pests pollinators raingarden seasonal slope spring stone trees vegetables water weeds winter