Orchid Viruses Guide

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Guide to Orchid Viruses

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Orchid virus (like all viruses) are virtually untreatable.

They cannot be cured with a simple spray of pesticide. A virus infection is the last thing an orchid collector wants, and without the knowledge of how it spreads, it could easily move through your entire collection.

Orchid viruses comes in many forms but all are essentially all spread by the same method, via the sap.

Whether it be on a bugs mouthpiece, your secateurs, or even sap on your hands; viruses can move from plant to plant. As long as there is movement of infected sap from an infected orchid to a healthy orchid the plant is at risk of infection.

The simplest way to avoid orchid virus is to keep in mind that ANY method of sap transmission may spread the disease!

  • All cutting tools must be flame sterilised between plants (a gas barbecue is suitable).
  • Newspaper should always be laid down at division and re-potting time and changed between orchids.
  • Second hand pots containing root residue must also be avoided unless hand washed and bleached.
  • Second hand compost is also to be avoided.

Knowing what to look for is also very important. Many things cause blemishes on orchids (from fungus to sunburn) but plants infected with orchid virus often display unusual leaf markings. Most visible virus symptoms are not spotty, but usually long and streaky. Yellow elongated patches on Cymbidium leaves is a curtail give away sign. A very sure sign is an unusual diamond pattern (see pic). Unfortunately it is difficult to confirm for sure that a plant has a virus infection. UPDATE: You can now obtain virus detection kits via our nursery or eBay.

Viruses orchids must be destroyed (burning or wrapping in plastic bags and disposing), be sure not to sell them or give them away. Some backyard sellers and smaller nurseries may be less aware of the dangers of virus infections and extra care should be taken when purchasing orchids from these sources.

Vigilance and cleanliness are the most effective way of preventing virus spread in your orchid collection.

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