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 FreakyCola » Jul 14, 2004 10:36 pm

I just thought of something sneaky we could do. :roll: If you see a plant that looks like it's virused, write on a plastic plant label that you suspect it has a virus & should not be planted & should be returned. Have some of these in your purse and whenever you see one, cram it in the side of the pot so only the person who dumps it out will see it. Maybe if Walmart or the other nurseries keep getting returns they'll do something about it. And I doubt if the store would ever find the tags. Now of course we'd have to be really sure the plant had a virus, we wouldn't want to say something that wasn't true. We couldn't be arrested for adding something could we? Reverse shoplifting? :-?
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Postby hostaguy » Jul 16, 2004 1:34 pm

Thank for the Info, my BIRCHWOOD PARKYS GOLD is infected. I'm chucking it!


I bought it 3 years ago, at a small nursery. I will give them a heads up next time I visit.
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Postby Chris_W » Jul 16, 2004 3:34 pm

Birchwood Parky's Gold was one of the first hostas to show the mottling and get spread around quite a bit. I believe it was even renamed to something else :???:

Makes me wonder if there is some hot new hosta out there that unknowingly has HVX and is being mass produced. I won't mention names and scare people, but it makes you stop and think about it ...
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Postby Justme » Jul 18, 2004 7:54 pm

Or we can all just buy hostas only from Chris and now he will have more space to increase his supply! Luckly I haven't seen any HVX signs on any of my plants. But I know I have seen it at some of the Big Box Stores. :x

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Postby Lessadragon » Jul 18, 2004 8:31 pm

I, too have just destroyed some plants that I suspect have the virus. Thank goodness I didn't sell any of them! I hope we can get ahead of this problem as I know that we cannot afford to throw all of this money into the fire pits. :???: We definitely have to talk to them through their pockets.
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Postby malaprop » Jul 25, 2004 4:13 pm

Hi guys:

I just tossed 5 virused Gold Tiaras from a uninformed local nursery, and 5 Wide Brims from Cosco box. Unmistakeably virused.....real "failure to thrive", so I don't miss them at all.

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Postby keith_novascotia » Jul 26, 2004 11:05 am

I don't know about anyone else but I am amazed at the number of nurseries who claim to never have heard of this virus. In fact out of 10 that I spoke to None had heard of it. But In those where the owner was a gardner, IE not a MART, theye were very interested. On PEI this past weekend I talked to two places and they seemed more than interested especially when I pointed out that the word was getting out to the Buying public and that we were looking hard at who supplied what and that in todays world word travels real fast. Both places took this web site to read the topic on the virus and to get a sence of the depth of the problem. One nursery had one bad S&S which was easy to see when compared to others he had. And the bad one had come from Holland. Has anyone e-mailed the Holland supplier to get their position?
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Postby Chris_W » Jul 26, 2004 12:20 pm

Keith,

It seems that myself and Jim Soper were the first two people to report the problem to DeVroomen, and Jack DeVroomen called me from the Netherlands to say that in 30 years of growing hostas they have never run across anything like this. As a result of our findings they have sent plant samples to several testing laboratories in Holland to have them checked out.

The initial response from the US customer service rep/receptionist on the phone was that they had never heard of such a thing, and Jim's customer service rep asked if he had made up the name "Virus X" :roll:

Can you imagine how bad the situation would have gotten without the internet to share this information?
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Postby Richiegirl » Jul 26, 2004 1:00 pm

I don't know if I had shared this before, but I own a computer sales and service company here in Madison, along with my son and his wife. We've been in business for 22 years, and in that time I have been so amazed at the many societal mini-revolutions due to the evolution of computer technology.

Without computers and the internet, we would not have this forum and the ability to share instantly important information, news, tips, etc. with each other.

Without computers and the internet, researchers like Dr. Lockhart and others, would be unable to share insights and lab findings so quickly with one another and with the public

And as you have noted, Chris, without computers and the internet, getting the word out to the large wholesale growers and distributors re: the HVX epidemic and their part in it, would take so long as to create an even worse crisis than now exists.

It seems to me that the latest computer viruses the techs at our company have to deal with these days pales in comparison to the hosta virus problem that has mushroomed in the hosta culture world this past year. That's because computer viruses get a lot of ink, and people learn how to deal with them. OTOH, the hosta virus is virtually unknown to the general public, which is a problem if people are unwittingly buying and spreading the virus.

Those in the know are always reluctant to make such problems public when an important market is at stake. But the knowledge, once made available, forces the marketers to get their act together. I believe it is just a matter of time when we will be purchasing hostas that are certified to be virus-free. Or, until then, field-tested as Chris is doing, to achieve greater certainty that what we buy is healthy and not infected.

Kudos to you again, Chris, for your integrity in dealing with this the right way and right away! Keep us posted on how the "big guys" are responding.

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Postby Richiegirl » Jul 29, 2004 4:42 pm

Just a note to let people know that I have emailed Ben Lockhart with additional questions and hope to have more HVX information soon, which I will post here when I hear back from him. I specifically asked if there are pictures of affected cultivars so we can see how the virus varies in appearance from one to another.

I also asked if he could provide lists of the following: 1-never affected varieties (he has already alluded to sieboldiana elegans, Francis Williams, and Great Ex), 2-those cultivars that are frequently affected (we already know about Gold Standard and some of its sports, most recently Striptease!), 3- cultivars with unusual splotchy markings introduced as sports but actually having the virus, which causes the unusual markings (some of these have been noted in the forum, in the HL, and hosta literature, but there are probably others), and 4-sports with a suspicious "look" but testing negative and therefore clear of HVX.

In the meantime, let's remember to use alcohol not just when dividing our hostas, but also when cutting scapes. Dr. Lockhart made it very clear in his last letter that a hosta may not look abnormal at all but can still be carrying HVX. I just did a big scape cutting here and carried my alcohol spray to disinfect the scissors I was using. First time I ever did that. It may be something of a hassle, but what's the alternative?

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Postby keith_novascotia » Aug 04, 2004 6:41 pm

hello chris. I notice that when you talk about cleaning your tools your preference seems to be the rubbing alcohol method over the amonia. Is this correct and if so why ? And what % do you advise for both.
thanks
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Postby Chris_W » Aug 04, 2004 10:50 pm

Hi Keith,

I've heard that you can use bleach, ammonia, or alcohol. Basically anything that will kill living tissue.

In Fine Gardening they recommended dipping tools in a 10% bleach solution, but bleach will evaporate pretty quickly if it sits out so I figured you would have to make up fresh every day. I'm using straight out of the bottle rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Once sprayed it evaporates quickly and shouldn't rust tools. The 10% bleach would probably keep in a spray bottle too.

I really don't know if one is better than another, but the alcohol has been a lot easier for me to use so that's what I chose. This would be a good question for Dr. Lockhart.
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Postby PeggyB » Aug 04, 2004 11:51 pm

I don't know if this is applicable for prevention in spreading HVX or not but...I just finished reading the nematode article in the hosta journal. In that article there was a recommendation to soak tools for 10 minutes in undiluted bleach. At least I think that's what it said...it's late and I was up VERY early with a terrified dog, it was storming! :(
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Postby greenseeds » Aug 05, 2004 6:28 am

In my food service certification classes I took a few years back, I learned that deluted bleach in a spray bottle is only viable for 24 hours for sanitizing. I would think undiluted bleach would be ok though. :-?
I use alcohol because it evaporates fast. :wink:
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Postby wishiwere » Aug 05, 2004 7:58 am

Same thing here, as I mentioned before, bleach after 24 hours being diluted is ineffective as a germ fighter, so I would assume as a virus killer also for tools.

I've been dipping in alcohol, but will be getting a spray bottle just as soon as I can!
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Postby keith_novascotia » Aug 05, 2004 11:29 am

Thanks for the info.
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Postby Chris_W » Aug 10, 2004 10:01 pm

New info. Clarence Falstad from Walters Gardens informed me that alcohol may not kill the virus. He said that it only kills by dehydrating, but a virus does not actually contain moisture. He said heat is the only way to kill and that temps need to be 60 to 90 degrees C to do the trick. He suggests alternating tools to divide and heat the blade with a butane torch between batches of plants :o Since ammonia also kills by dehydrating that might not work either. If bleach works by oxidizing then it might be a better solution. I'll try to confirm that.

And now some really bad info. We had more plants tested, and the results are not encouraging. The following plants from Holland growers have tested positive for virus:

Undulata Albomarginata, Paradise Joyce, El Nino :cry:

I still don't know if all of our El Nino were affected or just this year's plants. The virus is so low in this year's El Nino that it would not show any signs yet, so was most likely contaminated at harvest at the growers. We will get samples of last year's El Nino tested right away.

Until I know about our El Nino from last year I would hold off on destroying them since we shipped from both batches this year.

The plants that tested positive for virus have been:

Striptease, Stiletto, undulata albomarginata, Paradise Joyce, Gold Standard (we never shipped or sold these because of the known possibility), Sum and Substance, El Nino, Golden Tiara, Goldrush.

The plants that tested negative have been: Bottom Line, Paul's Glory, Guardian Angel, American Halo, Stiletto grown here, Moonlight, 2 new batches of Striptease, lancifolia, So Sweet, Fortunei Albopicta, ventricosa aureomarginata. These were picked because of their proximity to the other plants, because they came from the same growers, and also because a few people inquired about plants on their order.

We will continue testing, even if it means testing every single plant in the nursery :mad:
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Postby LucyGoose » Aug 10, 2004 10:25 pm

Oh brother!! :o
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Postby newtohosta-no more » Aug 11, 2004 6:07 am

Oh my goodness...what a herculean task that would be to test every single plant at your nursery!! :eek:
Is there any possibility that a governing agency will be sending out warning notices to registered nurseries (and box stores that sell plants) about this problem???
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Postby Justme » Aug 11, 2004 8:32 am

Chris, So the El Nino that I received from you this spring will have the HVX? :eek: But as it is small it just isn't showing the virus yet?

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