Viral infections must be physically transmitted from one plant to another. They are most often spread by the use of contaminated tools from one plant to the next. It is always wise to disinfect your tools (knife, scissors, etc) before moving from one plant to the next. Once you are certain that your collection is virus-free, then this is less mandatory.
Other means of passing viral contaminants from one plant to another are through sucking pests like aphids, or re-using water that has passed through a contaminated pot. Unfortunately there is no cure for viral problems, so infected plants must be completely isolated from healthy ones, or they should be destroyed. Viral problems can often remain hidden for long periods of time, and will only surface when the plant is stressed.
We have noticed an increase in the number of virally infected plants on the market in the past few years, probably due to poor hygenic practices in greenhouses of mass-producers. Also, the majority of these plants are being produced in overseas countries such as Taiwan or Indonesia, where labor costs are lower, but workers are inexperienced in proper plant maintenance.
|Plant leaves or pseudobulbs have elongated streaks||Virus infection
||Streaks often start as yellowish lines but soon become blackish in color. This could be fungal, so try fungal treatments first. If this does not address the problem, then it is likely a viral infection for which there is no cure.|
|Stems or leaves have circular blackened rings.||Virus infection
||Leaves especially will develop dark rings with a pattern inside the ring. This could be fungal, so try fungal treatments first. If this does not address the problem, then it is likely a viral infection for which there is no cure.|
|Flowers have color streaks||Mosaic Virus
||Occasionally this can be induced culturally. Try blooming your plant several times, and ensure that you are growing it properly. If the problem persists through 3 bloomings, then this is likely a viral problem, for which there is no cure. Mosaic can move from infected, non-orchidaceous plants via any kind of sucking insect or tool contamination. In particular, many of the old "Rembrandt" type tulips were intentionally infected with Mosaic to get the interesting patterning associated with this virus.|
|Viral treatments||Virus infection||There are no cures available for viral problems. Since some cultural problems can superficially look just like
viral problems, it is best to make sure that all potential cultural problems have been addressed.
If the symptoms disappear,
even for one growth cycle, then culture is likely the cause and not a viral infection.
However, if you are certain that there is a viral problem, you should either isolate your plant well away from healthy ones, or destroy it by burning it. Do not add it to your compost bin, as the virus will survive plant decomposition.
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