Problem: Hosta Virus X (HVX)
This virus infects only hosta plants. This extremely contagious disease was first identified in 1996, but it may have been present before that. In 2003 and 2004 the number of infected plants grew rapidly, and the disease is now very wide-spread. The virus develops for 3 or more years with no symptoms, but meanwhile the plant is contagious to other plants. Because the disease is not yet well-known, it has spread rapidly in the stocks of hosta growers in the United States and Holland-many hostas for sale are infected. Avoid purchasing hosta plants with uneven color, blotchiness, or puckered or twisted leaves, and don''t purchase any hostas from a nursery that has suspect plants in its collection. Some varieties may be more resistant to the disease than others, but they have not yet been identified, so a reliable list is not available.
The disease spreads through sap. Avoid bruising or crushing hostas and keep lawn mowers and string trimmers away. Disinfect tools and hands between plants. Destroy and discard diseased plants, including their roots, in a sealed garbage bag. Don''t plant hostas in the same location until any remaining roots decompose. Destroy the entire batch of purchased hostas if any of them develop symptoms.