Hosta Virus X epidemic

Discuss Hosta Virus X and share pictures and information on this ever increasing threat to hosta growing.

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Postby dannyboy » Apr 16, 2005 8:11 am

I work for Lowes and recently a customer came in and told a sales associate that our hosta were virused. This info never made it to me until the customer returned and contacted our complaint line. She spoke to my store manager and he brought it to my attention. I immediately pulled every hosta from the benches, contacted the grower and our corporate buying office. The grower has sent samples from both my store and the nursery to be tested. In the mean time we are not carrying any hosta. I am an avid gardener, but not an expert on hosta and really appreciated our customer's input she really made a difference and I learned something new (to me) in the process. If you are in a store or nursery please get the manager not a salesperson involved and if you do not feel that they are taking you seriously call/ email the cunsumer affairs - request follow up. Thanks
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Postby newtohosta-no more » Apr 16, 2005 10:56 am

Good advice, dannyboy (and welcome to Hallsons,btw :) ) . I have found that the salesclerks are many times not even the least bit knowledgeable about plants and are no help at all when it comes to questions or complaints. They just shrug their shoulders and say they'll let the manager know...but sometimes they don't follow through.
It's nice to know that the box stores really do have "plant people " working there. We seldom run across any. :lol:
Now...can you tell me......once the plants were pulled from your store and some of them are being tested for viruses, does the company alert ALL their stores? I would assume that their supplier is the same and diseased plants would most likely be at all the stores. :???:
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Postby Chris_W » Apr 16, 2005 11:07 am

Hi dannyboy,

That is great news to hear that some people at Lowe's are taking it seriously. It is a serious issue that has been ignored by too many people for too long.

I spoke with someone with a huge collection 4 years ago about this and his response was "virus schmirus, that is a grower problem, not a gardener problem". That was the response I got from a lot of hosta people back then, and has been the response from the AHS for a long time. Imagine if it was taken seriously then, a lot of this might not be happening now... :x
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Postby Chris_W » Apr 16, 2005 4:20 pm

Stopped at Lowe's in Adrian for lumber and they had Hosta 'Sugar and Cream' (at least that is what it was labeled) and they were horribly infected with Hosta Virus X. The rest of the plants looked okay, and I looked closely. The "Sugar and Cream" got an intensely puckered look to them as a result of the infection, but when you held a leaf up to the light you could clearly see varying coloring and mottling in the dark green center.

I should have taken my camera with me like Jean did in the pictures above. I have filed a complaint online.
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Postby dannyboy » Apr 18, 2005 11:08 am

Our company purchases plants from more than one grower, our specific suppliers are based by location. Some of our growers are local and some are national- the grower my hosta is from took immediate action when I called. Their territory sales manager came by my store yesterday and they are waiting to hear back from the lab.

I am known as the plant expert in my store, but there are three of us that are experienced with plants. I have my manual of woody plants by Mike Dirr and herbaceuous manual by Steve Still ? from my college days at the store. I have to say in Lowe's defense I have two full time employees that their job function is watering and maintianing plants- when I worked at HD if you were "playing with the plants" they acted like you were goofing off.
Prior to working at either place I worked at an independent for a long time and that is where I learned about garden center mgmt and standards and I try to emulate that as much as I can in my store.

I am not sure what corporate does but, last year there was a Sudden Oak Death (phytopthera remorem) scare with a west coast grower and Lowes worked with the USDA - all stores provided samples and we quarantined suspect plants until we got the all clear.
They were able to trace plants based on purchase orders that certain stores received.

Thanks :)
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Postby janet » Apr 18, 2005 1:12 pm

It's really good to hear there are folks like you out there, dannyboy. Care to tell us what part of the country you call home (not that NH has any Lowes stores......yet)? :D
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Postby dannyboy » Apr 18, 2005 1:48 pm

I am located in central New Jersey.
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Postby thy » Apr 18, 2005 3:05 pm

Hej Dannyboy, nice to meet you.
If we all work for healthy hostas in the ways we can we will win the battle :D
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Postby janet » Apr 18, 2005 3:26 pm

Ah. New Jersey, that makes sense...the Garden State! :wink: Glad you joined us.

Pia has the right idea. My mother used to say, "If you think you are too small to make a difference, you have never been in bed with a mosquito." :???:
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Postby mamaw2 » Apr 19, 2005 12:56 pm

I purchased a Stiletto in March from a local nursery. Over the last few weeks have been noticing a change in coloration and puckering in the center of the leaves. And if you hold it up the sun and look up through the leaves you can see definite variations. I've contacted the nursery via e-mail asking if they have had their hostas tested-no reply yet. I am keeping it isolated from my other hostas and will not be planting it until I know. Printed off the info for Dr. Lockhart. If I don't hear anything from the nursery by this weekend I may just make a trip out to talk to them personnally and take along articles. This post has been very helpful to me and I'd rather be safe than sorry when it comes to my new hosta plants and addiction.
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Postby Chris_W » Apr 19, 2005 1:58 pm

Hi Anita,

Yes, Stiletto is one of the problem plants that was distributed by a few different wholesalers with HVX last year. One wholesale distributor then pulled their stock of Stiletto from sale this year because of HVX.

This is a picture I took last year of a Stiletto leaf with HVX. The color differences in the dark tissue is best seen against some light.

And I really don't think it would be necessary to get it tested. If we test every single hosta we find that looks like it has HVX Dr. Lockhart will be overrun. Your description fits HVX exactly, and since we know there are possibly thousands of Hosta 'Stiletto' on the market infected with HVX I am sure that's what it is. The only reason to get it tested might be if you need to prove it to the nursery to get your money back.
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Postby mamaw2 » Apr 20, 2005 12:07 pm

Chris-Thank you for the picture and YES some of the leaves look just like that.
I did get a reply from the nursery owner stating they have sent samples to the state pathologist that did their inspection. He is(I quote) "keen on viruses and very thorough". He also said he'd let me know the results but if I wished to dispose of the Stiletto they would credit my purchase price. It won't be going in the ground or anywhere near my other hostas until I hear. I'm still going to keep the info on Dr. Lockhart handy. With the newness of this virus (and skepticism by some yet), how much trust should I put in the pathologists results? Now there is the real question.
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Postby Chris_W » Apr 20, 2005 1:47 pm

Well, the leaf picture I posted was tested by Dr. Lockhart and he reported it had the highest concentration of HVX from any of our samples.

Ask the nursery owner if the plants came from Holland. If so, then there is no doubt in my mind it is HVX, no matter what the plant pathologist says. There is one grower in Holland wholesaling HVX contaminated Stiletto to 2 different distributors I know of, DeVroomen and Simple Pleasures (Van Bourgendien).

Pitch it. Don't risk it.
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Postby Ginger » Apr 21, 2005 2:46 pm

Just one more reason I will only buy my hosta from Hallsons! Everytime I see one in a garden store or in a magazine I get tempted, then I think "VIRUS" and know I am only safe if I order from Hallsons.

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Bless your Heart CHRIS...

Postby oldcoot » Apr 22, 2005 5:49 pm

The Lilium people are having trouble too. Lot of BLUE MOLD coming in out of Holland also.

O.C is sure glad he only Orders from CHRIS now. Sure is good to have someone that CARES aBOUT YOU in your corner...

Thank you from the bottom of the Old Coot's heart and all the rest of those that love you and Hallsons.
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Postby Chris_W » Apr 22, 2005 6:31 pm

Ginger wrote:Just one more reason I will only buy my hosta from Hallsons! Everytime I see one in a garden store or in a magazine I get tempted, then I think "VIRUS" and know I am only safe if I order from Hallsons.

Ginger


Thanks Ginger, I hope that we can maintain that confidence. A lot of our plants originate in Holland, and although we have held back a lot of stock this year to be watched and tested there is still that fear in the back of my mind that something could have been missed or something that I have been assured by our suppliers is virus free who knows... The thing you can count on is that if we do find the virus in something we will post it on the website, the forum, and try to contact everyone by email. The part that I am still upset about is those people who bought things here at the nursery. We have no way to contact the people who bought Sum & Substance, Albomarginata, Golden Tiara, or Striptease before we realized they were virused plants. So we ask all of our regulars if they bought any of those and tell them about the virus so they can watch for it. I'm going to try and put together a little fact sheet to put near the register too so they can watch in their gardens.

And about Lowe's, I am very happy that they are taking it seriously. I know there is a bit of a learning curve for places like that, but isn't it interesting that we have heard nothing from Home Depot? Has anyone contacted them?
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Postby thy » Apr 23, 2005 1:51 pm

OKAY, BETTER TELL ME IF I AM OVER THE LIMIT
BUT I have been thinking of this in a year now
If any of you want to bye a hosta or other plant in Europe, you have to do a 50$ for the plant inspection and so do we if we bye plants from US.
But if we can not expect to get healthy plants :o they better stop the inspection,
Sure agree it can take a little while to know, but not years :evil:

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Postby caliloo » Apr 23, 2005 5:30 pm

Hey Chris

I was at HD last Tuesday and saw some definitely splotchy Blue Cadet. I pointed them out to the manager and she pulled them and said they would be destroyed.

I told her what I knew of HVX and suggested that they check each delivery coming in. She said she would keep an eye on them, but certianly didn't elicit the sense of urgency or concern (and follow-up) I have gotten from the Garden Center manager at Lowe's.

I will probably check into HD tomorrow - I have to run an errand down near there.

And just as a follow-up. I did go into Lowe's today and there were several dozen very healthy looking hostas for sale. Now a splotchy one to be found!

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Postby mamaw2 » Apr 24, 2005 12:36 am

Went back to the nursery today that I bought the Stiletto from and had the opportunity for a face to face talk with the owner. He said his supplier got his hostas from Holland. OK I can live with that-no surprise there. He did say something though that really caught my attention. He said that he knew his distributor exchanged the Holland tags with their own tags before distributing here in the US. Is this right??? Is there anyway for a common gardener like myself to trace these hostas back to their original gardens? By the way he is expecting to get his test results the first of the week and I got a replacement plant(not a hosta) in exchange for the price of my hosta.
I have felt like the hosta police today-before lunch I was at the local Wal-Mart after seeing some infected Golden Tiaras. After talking to the manager he pulled the infected looking ones and said he'd be contacting his buyer and corporate on Monday. Which brings me back to my original question if the tags have been changed...???
I also contacted (via email)another local nursery and asked for their distributor and hosta handling measures-explaining that I was looking for a safe place to purchase hostas. I like to shop locally as well.
Chris-Thank you so much for all your efforts and inputs. I know you are a busy person and to take the time...well it means everything.
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O.C. says what it means is

Postby oldcoot » Apr 24, 2005 6:27 pm

That we KNOW we are getting safe Hosta from HIM, because he Knows what to look for.. Thank you Chris. You have a LOYAL and really HAPPY Customer, in the Old Coot and his Hosta Patch..

That very FUNNY and certainly FRIENDLY Old Coot named John, who is so happy now that it is now SPRING, and loving ALL the beautiful Things, the Good Lord is sharing with him.
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