The cultivation of hostas has become so common that it is now part of human culture. Unfortunately, the widespread distribution of hostas has led to many diseases that tend to destroy them.
To get rid of Hosta Virus X in your garden, you need to remove the diseased plant along with its roots. The sooner you remove the source of the potential infection, the lower the risk of further spread of HVX to other hostas.
In the following, we will look at the disease and everything that is related to it in detail. You will also learn what you can do if it occurs.
What is an HVX?
Hosta Virus X is a disease that affects hostas and can cause significant damage. Hostas rarely die from it, but their growth is severely inhibited.
The disease was first discovered in the mid-1990s. Since then it has spread quite rapidly to all continents. This is not least due to the commercial popularity of the hosta.
All hosta varieties are susceptible to HVX infestation. Some cultivars are more often affected because of their higher prevalence than others. There are currently no hosta varieties that are immune to HVX.
Hosta Virus X disease cycle
The life cycle of the disease begins with entry into the plant. Then the virus cells divide and begin to destroy the living tissue that contains the green pigment chlorophyll.
When the amount of virus becomes critical, the plant loses its strength and is unable to increase in size. Stagnation or slow shrinkage takes place.
A high concentration of the virus in the cells of one plant makes it a prerequisite for its transfer to other plants.
How does the hosta virus spread?
HVX is most often spread by dividing a hosta into several parts in order to obtain new plants. If the number of bushes was divided with the same knife and there was a diseased one among them, there is a good chance that all the new plants are diseased.
Hosta distributors played a huge role in this. In order to make a profit, they divided and sent infected plants around the world. As a result, HVX became epidemic proportions.
In addition, the spread of the virus is possible by mechanical damage to a diseased plant and by getting its sap on other plants. This can happen during a storm or due to careless behavior with the plants.
Insects, slugs, or other pests do not transfer the virus from one hosta to another. In any case, there are no known cases of such transfer.
Also, hostas do not inherit the virus if propagated by seeds. As of today, there are no confirmed cases of generative inheritance of Hosta Virus X.
There is an interesting fact that the spreading of the virus is most common in spring when the hosta is in an active vegetative state. During or after flowering, hostas are much less frequently infected with the virus.
How do I know if my hosta has Virus X?
The annoying thing about HVX is that it does not show itself at the initial stage. Once in the plant, the disease begins to develop and the owner may not even know that his hosta is sick.
Only in the next year or two can the outward signs of the disease appear. They can sometimes be confused with normal hosta problems.
An implicit sign of the presence of the disease is that the hosta is stunted. Each year the plant becomes less vigorous until it shows clear symptoms of the virus.
Typical symptoms of Hosta Virus X are leaf spotting. Usually, pale green or yellow spots appear on the leaf blade. It looks as if the leaf has been exposed to bleach.
There can also be yellowing along the veins. It is a bit like chlorosis but the yellowing is sharp and angular.
Less commonly, puckering of the leaves is evident. The deformity appears exactly where the color is paler. Curling or browning of the foliage is also possible.
Hosta virus x test kit
To know for sure if your hosta has a virus it should be tested. The best way to test a hosta is to use commercially available test kits.
Agdia offers affordable, high-quality kits called ImmunoStrip. This product is quite accurate in determining if your hosta has a virus. Just buy this kit and use it as indicated on the label.
You also have another option. You can tear off one leaf and take it to your local agriculture office. They can do a special test there or refer you to the appropriate lab. Usually, their results are more accurate.
How do you treat Hosta Virus X?
The best way to treat Hosta Virus X is to get rid of all infected hostas. The sooner you remove them from your garden, the less risk that other plants will get sick.
Unfortunately, there are no chemicals or other methods of controlling the disease today. Eliminating sick plants is the only available way to suppress the disease.
However, you must be very careful when removing diseased hostas. Always use a sterile instrument for this purpose.
Dig out the diseased hosta very carefully so that you don’t damage any nearby plants. Try to dig up the bush with all of its roots. The fewer infested roots you leave behind, the better.
Burn the diseased hosta whole. All tissues should burn completely. Never leave them to rot in your yard. HVX is able to survive in the rotting mass or soil.
Fill the hole that remains after digging the hosta with sterile, fresh soil. Never plant a hosta there again.
If there are other hostas near the diseased plant, keep an eye on them for several years. If you see HVX signs on any of them, destroy the diseased plant.
After a few years, transplant the healthy hostas to a new location. And plant other kinds of plants in their place.
Read more: How do you treat hosta disease?
How to avoid Hosta virus X?
The first thing you can do to avoid HVX is to plant only healthy hostas. Before you buy a hosta, carefully inspect it for symptoms of the virus. Read the supplier’s reviews and make sure there are no cases of diseased plants being sold.
Always use sterile tools when handling hostas. When planting, transplanting, or separating hostas, always treat tools with alcohol. Disinfect the tools for each new plant.
Plant hostas at a sufficient distance from each other. This will reduce the possibility of transferring the virus from one hosta to another. Keep a distance equal to the size of the larger hosta plus one additional foot.