Species Facts:

Hosta Virus X, which is turning up wherever hostas seem to be grown, is being found in hostas that aren't even symptomatic! For this reason, Hosta Virus X is prevalent and underdiagnosed. Problems arise because plants can be asymptomatic when you (or the nursery) purchase them, but then develop symptoms weeks, months or years later.

Diagnosing Hosta Virus X

A definitive diagnosis requires laboratory testing, but there are some tell-tale symptoms you should be on the lookout for. Avoid hostas that have irregular color feathering, regardless of the variety. Some commonly infected cultivars include 'Gold Standard,' 'Striptease,' and 'Sum and Substance'. The problem is reported to be so severe in 'Gold Standard' that named forms have developed based upon the symptomology of the infection and Hosta. 'Breakdance' is actually named for the color breaking pattern due to virus infection--just like tulipmania in Holland! Symptoms are reported to be more pronounced in gold and gold-centered plants, like 'Golden Tiara' and 'Striptease.' Symptoms are difficult to describe, but resemble golden feathering spreading out of the leaf veins.

How it spreads:

Hosta Virus X is transmitted primarily through vegetative propagation (dividing plants). Contact with sap from the infected to sap of a healthy plant can result in infecting the healthy plant. Simple acts of dividing hostas, scape removal, and removing leaves can potentially spread this virus. Like all plant viruses, Hosta Virus X requires a living host, and cannot survive if the host hosta dies. Therefore, new plants may be planted where a virused plant was removed, as long as there are no still-living roots remaining. It's important to note that a few cultivars are considered to be resistant or even immune to HVX.

Portions of this article courtesy of: Hosta Library, Yard & Garden Line News
Image of Hosta Virus X
(Photo from: www.bugwood.org Credit to: Alan Windham)