Garden Center Recycling of Potting Mixes? & HVX

hostaLes(5)May 16, 2012

I have spent, as a HostaHolic a few hours touring Garden Centers and other retail sales outlets for Hostas. One thing I have found in common among them, if I snoop around enough (no, not as the "Dark One")is a pile of waste material which consists of peat type pot parts, potting mix, dead plants, etc. I have always assumed this is a composting pile for recycling these normally valuable organic materials that the Garden Centers and Growers spend $$$$ developing. It seems the piles are periodically turned (by a tractor with a bucket I assume).

If this is the case, I can't help thinking about what might happen to HVX infected plants at these garden centers, etc. Then thinking about this a new question comes to mind about HVX infected plants: At the retail sales level do HVX infected plants normally die back earlier in the fall than non-infected plants? At the end of the sales season there is a massive increase in the waste materials I have mentioned.

No one spends more time at the sales level nurserys other than owners and employees than we who buy their product. So it seems to me it is proper to ask this question among ourselves, the hobbyists, who frequent the operations. We care for our equipment by sterilizing them against cross contamination of HVX, and talk about leaving the soil where we have removed an HVX infected plant barren for a long time.

Can't these piles of garden waste at the growers and sales operations potentially pose cross contamination problems regarding HVX? Do the owner/operators sterilize their buckets on their tractors, for instance?

I don't know! I do know that owners/operators of some of these business watch our forum and might want to chime in. I invite their input.



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Jon 6a SE MA

I tried, without success, to find out if the 130 degrees or so temperature in a good functioning compost pile would be enough to kill the HVX virus or cook the live hosta cells that HVX needs to survive. I suspect that the hosta cells would not live long.

Of course disposing of any soil that may have come in contact with HVX in a compost pile is something that a knowledgeable nursery or individual would (or should) ever do.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 9:06AM
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Les, I know exactly what you are talking about. I have seen the huge compost piles at commercial nurseries. I don't know what is done with the material. I do know that contaminated soil is a major source of infecting plants and like I said in another thread I think it is likely the biggest source keeping it spreading. Rob

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 9:17AM
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jonnyb: "is something that a knowledgeable nursery or individual would (or should) ever do."

Ideally we should all "like" to think that! But many laborers or workers at these facilities don't know enough to ensure that this is done. It may have nothing to do with the owner/managers policies when such an employee innocently takes it upon his/her-self and discards such material.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 10:48AM
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Since Rob is participating in this thread, I'd like to ask a related question, similar to Les.

If you have the HVX plant removed from your planted garden, and you do not plant hosta again there, is there a test that can be run on the soil to see if it is safe again? Like, I've ordered some test kits for 5 HVX samples. If the plants turn out to be positive (I have 3 in the ground quarantined now) AND I subsequently destroy them by rounduping them, after two years, can I TEST for HVX presence? I do not want to put new hosta back in that spot too quickly, and then have to begin the dormant cycle all over again.

And, if there is a test kit available for testing the soil for HVX, when I order a truck load of nursery mix, can I test it?

Would it also be likely the same soil could harbor nematodes?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 5:13PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Les, I agree of course.

To your question moccasin (even though it was not addressed to me) It would be impossible to test the soil. The test takes a sample of the suspected tissue of a certain size and it is crushed and mixed with a buffer and the strip dipped into it to get a result.

Trying to test soil in the area of a planting would be impossible. I would suggest taking out as much soil as possible with the diseased plant. Larger than any hosta you would plant in it. Fill with known clean soil. If you wait 2 years or have dug it larger than the new plant then the odds of infected tissue coming in contact would be infinitesimal. The virus needs live tissue to live. Enlarging and filling the hole with clean soil and waiting a couple of years would seem to me to be more than safe. If you wanted to be extra safe, don�t "tease" the roots of any new hostas you plant in the area as the virus needs a wound in the new plant to infect it as well. No wound, no infection.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 5:36PM
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I know of no test for the soil either. I am confused over whether or not the virus needs live tissue or has the ability to go dormant. I read many reports of how the virus remains viable on tools for long periods of time. I also seriously question whether or not the plant has to have an open wound to be infected. A virus is mircoscopic much smaller than lets say a nematode. If a nematode can get inside a plant then why can't the virus follow it in. I have read that the first form of life outside of our planet likely to be discovered will probably be a virus. The issue Les brings up is interesting. If you had a plant growing in a greenhouse that is not looking good an employee is likely to remove it and would probably end up in the compost pile. A good working compost pile can in the core reach temps to kill nematodes but like Jon says it is unknown whether it can kill virus.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 8:20PM
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Jon 6a SE MA


The University studies sponsored by the AHS state they need tissue to survive. I have not heard any study that suggests the virus can go dormant.

If the hosta is isolated enough and every bit of it is removed, then the virus is removed as well. The problem as you point out is that viruses are microscopic and even the smallest residual tissue can harbor it. Any minute cut or tear on another plant then becomes an entry for the virus. This is why, I think, digging it out with anything will leave infected tissue and worse if a neighboring plant has its roots cut then it has the virus. It makes no difference if the shovel is disinfected or not.

The only advantage to disinfection would be to prevent infection to other areas after digging in an infected area. A disinfected shovel will transmit the disease to neighboring plants just as surely as a dirty shovel will. This is why I think using glyphosphate (Roundup or equivalent) by wiping it on the leaves to kill the plant is best. The neighboring plants that have not cuts or tears cannot get the virus by intermingling of sap. The infected plant must be cut for it to "bleed" and any other hosta needs to have a path for the sap of the host plant to enter it. Glyphosphate kills the plant and leaves everything intact. After a few months surely the tissue is dead including the root sytem. Then it should be safe to dig it out without leaving any living tissue and virus behind.

Of course it is good practice to sterilize all tools anyway. Dawn dishwashing detergent has been shown to be just as effective as alcohol or bleach to disinfect the virus. I think it would be the best choice as scrubbing becomes easier and the wash water used can be disposed of very easily.

I have never had an infected plant. If I ever do I will put on some rubber gloves. Wipe "Roundup" on the leaves of the infected plant. Leave it alone over the winter to ensure it is dead down into the roots. It cannot infect other hostas unless you cut the roots, stems or leaves of both plants; the infector and the infectee if you will. I would then take a Dawn scrubbed shovel and dig it out and dispose of everything in the trash, only as a super precaution. I would then fill the hole with "clean" dirt (an oxymoron, if I've ever heard one) and plant another hosta or whatever I felt like.

Chopping into it right away to remove it is a mistake; disinfected shovel or not. I am quite sure of this. Kill the plant / kill the virus...then dig it up.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 9:52PM
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Jon, "Viruses exist in two distinct states. When not in contact with a host cell, the virus remains entirely dormant. During this time there are no internal biological activities occurring within the virus, and in essence the virus is no more than a static organic particle. In this simple, clearly non-living state viruses are referred to as 'virions'. Virions can remain in this dormant state for extended periods of time, waiting patiently to come into contact with the appropriate host. When the virion comes into contact with the appropriate host, it becomes active and is then referred to as a virus. It now displays properties typified by living organisms, such as reacting to its environment and directing its efforts toward self-replication". From The Bacteriophage T4 Viru This is why I believe that the virus may be dormant in soil. Couldn't decaying plant tissue release the virus into the soil. ?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 11:13PM
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Question on using Round-Up on the hosta.
Does anyone know of how much Round-Up and how long it would take to kill the hosta?

I have by accident sprayed a hosta in the early spring while spraying for weeds. Hosta was probably a couple of inches tall and it turned a funny color and kind of knarly but it didnt die. In a couple of months you couldnt really tell the hosta had been sprayed.

In my opinion Round-Up is not going to work for trying to kill a hosta, but I could be wrong.
Better to dig up the hosta in a correct manner to get rid of the virus from the area in the gardens.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 11:27PM
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Trudy, in a way you have given a piece of the puzzle that I have to unravel in my mind. In the huge compostable waste piles I have seen in commercial retailers of gardening specimen I have seen all kinds of plants growing strong and tall. Remnants of plants obviously survive the composting procedure and then thrive on the nutritious medium in which they are living.

Hosta roots are long lived, given proper conditions. I swore I had a totally "dead" Dream Queen and dug it up. I replanted the are with a new June. In late summer I found

Obviously I had missed a few very small pieces of viable roots of Dream Queen buried in the dirt. Nothing had killed them.

Imagine if these were tiny pieces of root from an HVX infected plant, or more likely, the roots of a whole display of infected hostas being tossed in the compost pile.

Your roundup killed the leaves but not the roots. This leads to the question, since the symptoms we know most about effect the health of a hosta's foliage, it can be destroyed in retailing environments but the roots are still viable.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 12:30AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Glyphosate disrupts the enzymes needed for plants to live. When it is sprayed on or wiped on, the plant dies, the roots die. From the studies at the University of Minnesota HVX needs living tissue to survive. Simply digging up a hosta leaves an opportunity to leave living tissue.
Les your transplanted Dream Queen is an example of exactly my point. If the Dream Queen had been wiped with Glyphosate it would be dead, roots and all. It could not possibly survive until the next season. It has no way to survive when glyphosate disrupts the enzymes necessary for most plants (including hostas) to survive.
The Dream Queen survived because there was living tissue. This is a natural example of how tissue culture works. No tissue, whether leaf, stem or root survives when treated properly with glyphosate.

According to the studies done so far the virus does not exist without living tissue. I see no reason not to kill the hosta with glyphosate before removing it and a reasonable reason why it may help prevent HVX spread and make the removal less likely to spread the virus.

Trudy, glyphosate will kill hostas. Painting with a brush or rag surely will. All I can say is "You pay your money and you take your chances" If you think that digging up a live hosta infected with HVX is a better idea than killing it first when studies show the virus cannot live in dead tissue, then that is your choice. I see no drawback to killing it first. I see a danger in digging it up while alive and infected. You don't based on your belief glyphosate does not kill hostas. Fine.

The answer to your question as to how much is needed to kill a hosta is, more than you accidentally sprayed on yours.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 7:57AM
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Agree on the Round-Up that I didnt spray the hosta heavily. Just wondering how much would need to be painted on the leaves, especially if the hosta is a nice size clump?

Wish I had the answer on what method is better, but dont.
If live roots were spreading virus of a dug up virus infected hosta, I think you would see the spreading of the virus being more rampant in gardens than what we have seen.

The worst case I have ever seen of the HVX was at an arboretum where the ground crew had possibly used a grass trimmer on a border of a hosta bed. Another good reason to be careful when using a grass trimmer around hostas.

By the way did anyone notice you can add photos directly from your computer, by using the browser button!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 8:11AM
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Forgot to mention the photos are thumbnails and are clickable! Thanks Garden Web for making upload our own files easier to load onto a post!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 8:12AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Trudy, paint it on all the leaves with a paintbrush or swab it on with a rag or paper towel. In order to be transfered the virus has have a cut or scrape in the leaf, root or stem of an infected plant and another cut or scrape in a healthy plant to enter the plant.

The roots of HVX hostas can be intermingled with healthy plants and there will be no transmission of the virus until you go slicing into the roots. Then the juices of HVX from the infected plant will enter the wounds you have just inflicted in the previously healthy hosta.

Now, if you had killed the infected hosta along with the virus first, then this would prevent (or surely minimize) the chances of transmitting the virus. The virus does not transfer between roots unless they are cut in some way. Ergo, your worst example of HVX when a trimmer sliced and diced its way through infected hostas and put slices in healthy hostas spreading the virus to the entire group.

On a smaller scale this is what happens when you dig out an infected hosta. The question then is how to remove the hosta without leaving tissue or cutting healthy roots. My suggestion is kill the HVX infected hosta before digging it up. Kill the hosta and kill the virus before digging.

Waiting for it to die does not expose any other hostas to infection as long as it is not cut in any way. There has to be fluid to fluid transfer for infection. Using a disinfected shovel does not prevent damaging the roots and it does not prevent leaving small amounts of tissue behind infected with HVX. As soon as the shovel slices through any part of the infected hosta it is not sterile any longer.

Unless there is some logical reason to not try and prevent spreading infection in every way possible, I am not changing my mind.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 8:39AM
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Unfortunately HVX can remain viable in dead hosta tissue and HVX can remain viable outside of the host plant as well. While roundup will disrupt the growth cycle of the hosta you have sprayed, it still takes years for those roots to break down, and as long as there are still roots down there, even dead roots, they will be contaminated with HVX.

HVX is one of the more stable viruses out there, which is what has made it so difficult to contain.

Digging out the entire plant and getting as much of the root system with it is still your best bet in my opinion. Dig the plant in fall when everything around it is dormant since dormant plants are more unlikely to become infected. And if it was me, I would dig the HVX infected plant, then clean my shovel really good and dig every single plant that was around it too and pitch them all, trying to dig only from the HVX infected side. Then replace all of the soil in that area.

Since it is possible for a plant to get HVX in the field through contaminated soil then it must be possible for a non-wounded plant to absorb HVX, possibly through root fusion as is seen in other field crops.

Doug Beilstein suggested to me in March while at Hosta College that I do a study to see how long HVX remains in a plant after spraying with roundup. As soon as I can find some infected plants (I've been checking the local stores and haven't seen any yet) I'll give it a try, and hopefully I can get enough of a sample size to make it a true scientific study.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 9:16AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

ctopher, I have never seen any study that shows HVX is viable outside of living tissue.

Surely contaminated soil can spread the virus. Bits of tissue can contaminate soil. Once again I have never found any source that suggests the virus can survive without living tissue or that HVX can be transmitted without a wound.

The Hosta Library has this to say-
" It survives only in living plant tissue and dies without a host. "

"The virus cannot survive without living plants, but it can remain in the roots until they decompose."

If you have information to refute this then please post it. If you do the study and it refutes the testing done so far that says survival without a host is impossible, it would require rethinking of what is now known. It would also required that you actaully determine if there is any tissue in the virus contaminated soil you would use and that the hostas you are infecting do not already have the virus. It seems like a huge expensive test if it is to be done to standards of the University studies done so far that have determined that it does not live without a host (hosta tissue).


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 10:04AM
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Thanks for you input Chris.

I am not saying that I have an infected hosta, just questioning!
Again not everything that is on the internet is always correct, or new data is coming up from studies all the time. Chris has done lots of work on the HVX over the years, and we thank you Hallson Chris!

Also I am still on the thinking of what I have seen in gardens (which I have seen many over my years) that the virus is spread more cut leaves and careless trimming of flowers stalks. Not saying the roots dont spread the virus....
Please disinfect tools after each use no matter what you use them for!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 10:13AM
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Jon 6a SE MA


You are correct that most of the problem of spreading is from contaminated tools used for trimming or on a far larger scale from tissue culture of virus infected plants. This is most likely because it is done more frequently than division, moving or any activity that would cut the roots done by a gardener.

Of course Hallson's does an excellent job of testing and has quality controls that make it a trusted source of non-infected hostas.

Surely, not everything on the web is correct, however when the information is from the Hosta Library and the University of Illinois it carries far more weight than something that comes from jonnyb, lets say.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 10:33AM
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I shared a story that Gerard Heemskirk shared with me when he visited a few years ago. He tc'd a plant. The name of it is not important. They checked it multiple times before starting the initiation process, They checked it multiple time during the multiplication process, They checked it before rooting, after rooting etc. They planted them out in a field and "BOOM" now they are infected. He destroyed 5000 plants because of virus.Did the soil have bits of living tissue ? Is the virus sitting dormant waiting for a host like science say it can ? I don't know. I must say this I appreciate Gerard's honesty. It shows he is a man of integrity and will do the right thing. I have read everything I can get my eyes on about HVX. I think the AHS sponsored research is a step in the right direction. I did not read anything ground breaking from the results. I think Trudy is correct when saying that open cuts and sap is most likely the easiest way of transmission. Jon, do some researh on virus not just HVX virus and you will see that it is not only possible but very likely to go dormant. Dormant may not be the correct term. A virus can act as a living organism and a static organic particle as I put in an earlier post. I have had one plant with HVX and I purchased it from a hosta only specialty business. Not a big box store.It was a small liner sized plant that I had potted and I threw it out in a double lined bag( pot, dirt and all). I communicated the issue and was confident that the appropriate measures were taken to prevent the spread. I was not mad. I know the businessman felt horrible. Getting mad at him would have been like getting mad at a person for having cancer.I thought I had one in the ground last year. We had an extremely wet spring and I had a plant that looked like it had bleeding. I dug it up immediately. I potted it and tested it 3 times. No HVX. I still removed a half yard of soil ( double construction bagged )and used a high strength hydrogen peroxide to treat the hole. We are all potential victims and must pull together responsibly.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 10:54AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

I can only go by the best available information which consistently says that the virus cannot exist outside of living tissue. When a university spends 3 years studying the problem and gives their opinion that non-host survival of HVX has never been shown to be possible, then I will go by that information.

Based on the best technical information available, I would guess that the field was infected by a previous planting. The best information says that tissue cut from infected plants can live for 2 years or more in the soil. It says that tissue must be present. Is it possible that it may not have to present in tissue and survived in some unknown circumstance, sure. It is also possible it may have been some other virus as HVX is not the only virus that affects hostas.

I think that a few here are taking this personal. I am no expert. I can only go by what experts tell me and the very best experts in the world say it cannot survive without living tissue. The very long time tissue can survive and host HVX is known and accepted as well.

In the case of the infected batch of hostas it could have been caused by conditions that can be explained without assuming that there is some unknown and unproven ability to remain dormant in the soil with no host. The chances of this dormancy seem slight to me, in deference to the studies done by very reputable scientists under controlled conditions.

Anything is possible. I think you have to go with the best information possible. I still have not heard one cogent argument that there is any disadvantage to killing the plant before digging it out and there is much scientific evidence (in my estimation) that it would help. I'm sorry if it goes against the conventional wisdom and long held practices of many. It just makes ultimate sense to me that the best available information should be used to make a decision that could cost me a lot of money and a great deal of angst. Just because others have done it another way, or have beliefs of possible infection that go against the best technical data possible is not a convincing argument to me.

Obviously this has ruffled some feathers. Once again, I would like to have some non-emotional and hard scientific reasons why killing a hosta, and hopefully the virus, long before digging it up is not a good idea and why digging up an knowingly infected hosta alive and virulent is a good idea.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 11:27AM
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Thanks for your input Rob and Jon. Hosta viruses are a Very complex issue!
Many folks think they are just dealing with HVX, there are many other diseases that are affecting hostas.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 11:28AM
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Jon, I am not taking this personally at all. This is a great subject that lacks scientific evidence for much of our views. Lets say you spray a hosta with glyphosphate. I know it says it kills the root and all. Is there a chance that as the top dies that all of the roots are not killed because the plant was to slow in growing and that living and or decaying root tissue remains in the soil. If you can see where a lab grown plant with no open wounds or cuts can get infected by planting in a field then why couldn't a neighboring plant come into contact with a decaying infected root and get the virus. Have you read that glyphosfate kills virus ? If not then your premise does not hold up. There are virus can survive just about everything including radiation, extreme temps etc.. On a side note I want to know if HVX can be transmitted through pollen ? Rob

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 11:45AM
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Great question Rob, know that is really scary for the hybridizer's if the viruses are transmitted through pollen or even the ~Bees~ spreading the pollen!

The key is to get folks educated on the viruses that are around, but since the virus hides for years who knows!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 12:12PM
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I want to throw in a couple of thoughts at this point.

-Virus viablility: virus have been found buried in inorganic space particles that, given the right conditions, have become active. I have heard the condition more commonly explained by comparing them to spores. Spores, and viruses, remain viable but are inactive and encase themselves in some form of protective shell. History of the human race has shown that we have found ways to minimize the effects of a virus to a point where we feel it has been beaten. But while dormant it is still viable and is developing immunity to anti-viruses.

-A 3 year study at a university lab has an inherant fault. The oldest of collected data is already 3 years old before publishing conclusions. This, in a day of extremely fast increases in technology, can render it obsolete by the time the study has been published. The conclusion published are regarded regarded in the scientific community as fodder for new research.

-I have been tricked on-line by reading new (to me) information, and developing opinions based on it: only to finally see the date of publication of related papers were quite a while ago. So I am very careful not to develop rock-hard conclusions based on questionable sources, EVEN WHEN THAT SOURCE IS A REPUTABLE LAB. The scientific community is extremely conservative in regards to accepting new info as FACT.

-Finally, and this applies to what both Rob and Chris have said, my now notorious Dream Queen was planted with roots that looked like an octopus; very thick, very large. It was field grown at a small hosta farm which I had walked before buying it. When it didn't come up and I dug it out, I found a root mass that looked like peat; black, very thin and more like the fine surface roots of my silver maple in appearance. Yet you have seen what appears to be 3 tiny root sprouts a year after the parent was dug out.

I don't pretend to be a qualified researcher regarding HVX. I am simply a 74 year old hostaholic who has had the education and work experience in the earth sciences. During this time I learned why not to jump to conclusions. So anything I present is opinion, educated guesses as they might apply to my hosta gardens. But I try to keep up on things to make my guesses as good as they might be.

Obviously, the HVX problem is extremely complex, as are ALL virus issues, and the best we laymen can do is ask questions.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 12:33PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Once again.

Based on long standing science, Roundup and other glyphosates kill all roots.

No, I don't think glyophostates are antibiotic. They kill plants by interfering with their enzymes.

All the scientific eveidence shows that HVX virus lives only on living tissue. The fact that other viruses have the ability to go dormant is really irrelevent to HVX which by all indications does not.

A 3 tear old study that is ongoing and has never shown HVX viable outside of a live host is more convincing than no evidence at all disputing it.

The choice is to dig out a hosta that is infected with virus or digging it out with the decades of experience that clyophosates kill plants completely and the information that dead hostas cannot harbor the HVX virus.

You say that the scientists may be worng. I say, so what. Killing or at least reducing the virus greatly cannot be a bad thing and, if the science is not correct, then it is still a safer way to go than digging an actively infected hosta.

The choice is to use a method surely dangerous or use one that is far safer, although you fear it may not be foolproof.

My background is engineering and a bad decision there could cause someone great harm or even kill someone. Killing a hosta is not the same responsibility, but the same rules apply. Minimize risk whenver possible.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 12:54PM
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I have read and reread my post and fail to see where I have said scientists may be wrong. If I implied that I apologize, because that is not my intent. What I have said is that the scientific community is appropriately slow in jumping to conclusions that hypothesis is fact.

In engineering studies it is taught that so much of what we TREAT as fact is hypothetical repititions so numerous that we can treat them as fact, BUT, it should alway be remembered that they are hpothetical.

The killing of a hosta is not urbane to the issues presented here in this thread. It may or may not be the best thing to do to an HVX infected hosta. I have no issue with that. I doubt however that at this time a retailer of hostas is going to spray all of its fading hostas with Round-up before dumping them in their pile for composting. Does anyone know of a breeder, TCer, grower or retailer of hostas who is ready to commit to such treatment of ALL of their hosta related organic waste materials?

If I were in the business of supplying hostas to the buying public I would need to see more concrete evidence that EVERY totally dead piece of root of a hosta will guarantee HVX was destroyed as well. Only then would I be inclined to consider adding the cost, both financially and ecologically, of using chemicals to treat all of my hosta waste materials before disposal.

My purpose of this post was to bring awareness to the potential dangers in disposing of hosta waste materials in commercial operations by adding them to a compost pile and reintroducing it into the growing media for future use in growing plants.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 5:19PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

The fact that the virus can live in roots "until they decompose" (Jon's U. of Ill ref.) means those roots are quite dead during the final decomposition stages, yet the virus can still rear it's ugly head. Ohio State makes a similar claim:

"In a landscape bed, residual root tissue remains a source of virus inoculum that could infect a susceptible hosta planted in the same location until it is completely degraded by microorganisms."

That "risidual root tissue" does not mean living roots. Also, "completely degraded by microorganisms" should concern all of us. Depending on the vivacity of your microherd, it could take 3-4 years or more.


Here is a link that might be useful: The whole article

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 5:50PM
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Jon 6a SE MA


Engineering principles are proven and tested. They are not hypothetical.


I read the full report and it says," The primary route of infection of HVX is through propagation of infected plants. Secondary transmission is due to mechanical wounding a healthy, susceptible hosta and the subsequent introduction of sap from an HVX infected plant."
No other vector for HVX exists. It does not live in dead roots. Nowhere in the article does it suggest the virus can live outside of live tissue. In fact it states clearly just the opposite when it describes the only methods for transmission. If HVX lived outside of live tissue it could be transmitted by thrips and nematodes as other viruses that infect hostas are. This is also discussed in the article.

Extrapolating that residual root tissue does not mean living tissue is incorrect, without any basis in fact and not supported in this article or by any other reputable source. Residual root tissue is simply that, residual root tissue.

Look, my basis for feeling that killing the hosta before digging it up is sound. If you want to keep digging up infected hostas then you do so at your own risk. I guess you can save the cost of some Roundup by not doing it and if you are reckless enough you can add the additional risk of planting something back in the same place quicker.

I wouldn't. But who am I to tell you what you can and cannot do. The research to date is clear, HVX does not live outside of live tissue. I say killing the hosta will kill the virus, several educational institutions agree with me. Some posting here feel HVX can live in dead matter or lay dormant for years. Some say Roundup doesn't kill the roots of plants. They could be right, but the work and documented results of many would have to be disproven.

I really don't understand all the resistance. HVX is a very serious problem. Ascribing abilities to it that don't exist fogs the issue.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 9:01PM
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buckeye15(No OH)

I am not a plant pathologist or virologist, but I believe I can add some valid information to this discussion.

1) HVX is a type of virus known as a potexvirus. A good plant pathologist explained to me that though seed transmission of HVX had not been proven, that potexviruses in general have a theoretical transmission chance of 7.5% So seed transmission is possible but not proven to occur.

2) I have used glyphosate for over 30 years professionally and I can tell you that when mixed at label rates, does not kill many thick fleshy rooted plants. I have tested glyphosate on hostas in my yard and it has NOT killed them when mixed at label rate of 2%. Perhaps if mixed at a higher rate, or sprayed multiple times it may provide better kill.

3) Dr. Lockhart's research has shown a much lower likelihood of transmission in the fall (after flowering), so that would seem to be the safest time to remove a plant, whether or not you sprayed it with glyphosate.

4) Focusing only on HVX is very short sighted. There are so many other viruses infecting hostas right now. After a recent round of virus indexing I found that I have 3 (at least) different viruses in my hostas in my garden right now. I will make a separate post on that so as not to distract from the HVX issue here.

5) Chris if you are looking for HVX infected plants I can get you set up.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 9:19PM
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I'm not resisting. It just isn't the topic I opened this post about. You want to discuss to kill or not to kill, open another posting about it. I have no problem with that! I probably will enjoy it and quite possibly give you positive support on your position.

Just look at the title of this string - "Garden center recycling of potting mixes? HVX." I have been trying to prevent it from becoming a "P------ Match" about something else. I have not once said I think you are wrong. I can agree to disagree with you if I want, but it doesn't have to be argued here. (said with a smile)


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 9:31PM
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Jon 6a SE MA


What is your professional opinion of a hosta being killed when all of its leaves were painted with glyphosate as I suggested?


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 9:37PM
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Jon - As I have suggested, and buckeye has responsibly stated "make a seperate post---so as not to distract from the HVX issue here.", why don't you do that? I for one would be happy to join you there, as I have already said.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 10:40PM
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Les, I have a load of nursery soil and bark 50-50 out in my driveway. I was intending to use it as a foundation for my "hosta hill" under a shade structure now in the process of being constructed.

However, I'm thinking to use it any place except the hosta patch. I will instead order a truck load of pine bark, no soil of any kind, and build my hosta hill with bark. It will gradually decompose, and it will provide drainage over its lifetime. Much better than the clay based soil just beneath the leaf mold of 50 years now covering my garden area.

I'm seriously considering the inappropriate nature of almost any nursery compost for my garden. Hosta are not that common down here, but I do not wish to introduce any decomposing/decomposed plant material which could have other virus. I have a lot of other plants here, don't want to kill any of them. Or bring new strains of virus which could be transmitted to the hosta.

Wish we could find a sweet little bug that eats virus like the ones which ate the BP oil spill in the Gulf.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 11:43PM
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buckeye15(No OH)

Jon, I suspect that if you go out and paint glyphosate on Hosta 'Lemon Lime', and I spray it on H. 'Blue Angel' at the same rate, that you might get better results, especially if you sneak in some Pentra Bark (or some other penetrating surfactant), or use a paintbrush that is so stiff it scratches through the cuticle of the hosta leaf.

But in an apples to apples comparison on the same cultivar, mixed at the same rate, with the same surfactant, if properly applied through a sprayer or paintbrush, the results would be the same.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 6:50AM
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Oh my. I recently dug up an HVX infected Wide Brim, getting any visible roots of it out. During the dig, there was inevitable spray of soil from the hole over the surface of soil nearby, could not be helped. Fortunately, the root system was not very developed, it was rather small and I think I got pretty much of it out. There was not a whole lot of fibrous root material left in the hole, I removed all I could see. I then planted a heuchera in the hole so I wouldn't plant a hosta there and tossed the infected plant into the garbage can. I then disinfected the shovel with a bleach solution and then hospital-grade Lysol. I sure hope that the surrounding hosta don't come down with an infection either through the microscopic root I may have missed or a particle of soil which sailed through the air while digging out the infected Wide Brim.

Keeping fingers crossed.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 6:53AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

The discussion was about HVX and methods of transmission. My comments are on topic and it seems that they WERE fine with you.

Thank you for your expertise. My takeaway would be to use concentrated Glyphosate and paint it on to ensure a quick and thorough killing of the hosta leaves and all before digging out the infected plant. Penetrating surficants would be a good idea, but that is well outide my casual gardening experience.

As long as you didn't damage the roots of any neighboring hostas they are fine. Your disinfecting regimen will contain any spread as we all know that HVX only survives in live hosta tissue.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 7:50AM
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JON: Thank you for the reassurance. I was also worried that a stray swipe of my shovel had torn the leaf of a neighboring hosta. I looked at the leaf, but didn't really see any tears. I definitely did not run into the roots of a neighboring hosta because one of the closest neighbors was newly planted and had no extensive root system, and the next closest had no extending roots anywhere near the infected hosta that I could discern. Still keeping fingers crossed that I didn't miss anything!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 9:53AM
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Jon-When I lived in Arkansas I knew a lot of people who regularly rode horses. But I only knew ONE who always rode a mule; never a horse. The mules name was Willie. I commented one day since mules have a reputation of being "difficult" in a way few horses are, it surprises me that he rode Willie all the time. His reply made perfect sense to me. He said "Awe, Willies OK. You just have to smack a mule as hard as you can, right between its eyes with a 4 x 4, to get its attention first." It made sense because I never tried to ride a mule.

The topic was not about killing a hosta to prevent HVX, or any other virus for that matter, from spreading. It was about what commericial growers, retailers, hybridizers, TCers, etc. actually do with their waste. Since we ALL CONCEDED it can be spread from hosta roots left in growing medium, it posed the question: Is it wise for them to recycle their hosta potting materials and waste by composting? I'd already conceded that I only presumed this is what they do with it, based on the piles I had seen, and was open to enlightenment.

At the outset I had invited any growers, etc. to take part in this discussion. It illicited Chris and Rob to participate. Now they are not. I am afraid the string has been severed, repeatedly, and can't be recovered. I give up-Jon. Its your field now. Go ahead and run with it with my blessings!

I have one statement to make to you JON, and will not respond if you have a comeback. During much of MY lifetime, engineers based much work on the hypothesis that the electron, proton, and neutron were the most fundimental elements of matter. This hypothesis was dealt with as if it were fact and the basis for much progress, while it was commonly accepted it was a very consistent hypothesis. Now we KNOW (at least I do), of course, that it was not fact. We learned this as scientific researchers developed greater technology that disproved the hypothesis.

Their work is applauded, and their success was achieved because they DID NOT ACCEPT IT AS FACT and looked for better answers for unsolved questions.


This experience has created no hard feelings towards you on my part. I am frustrated because the question has not been answered.

Back to Hosta Forum!


    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 10:14AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

When you compare someone with a mule, suggest that something as simple as determining whether a virus can live outside a host with sub-atomic particle theory and then attack the engineering profession; you certainly sound bitter.

I suppose when you post another thread you should warn people that they are only welcome to comment if they accept your premises and should not introduce any evidence that disputes your theory or they are not welcome to post.

I would also suggest that 3 university studies have shown that the virus cannot live outside of live tissue. Your assumption that they are all wrong is an excellent example of a hypothetical being accepted as fact; by you. I would look in the mirror and ask myself who is the mule? The person who has looked at all the available information from 3 elite universities and suggests actions consistent with the information they have independently agreed upon or the person who says they intend to follow a path in direct contradiction to these facts or at least doesn't accept this data because the electron THEORY has been revised.

There is a good reason for it being titled a theory. Theories may be interchangeable with facts in Life Science; they are not in engineering. You should be thankful, as I don't think you would want to fly in a plane or drive a car built with theoretical ideas. The only theoretical idea I have heard in all these comments is that some believe that HVX virus lives outside of living tissue or can stay dormant outside of living tissue. The fact that three universities have studied this and independently determined and agree this does not happen has not stopped some from accepting the theory that is does happen. So, who is one to believe? Three universities that have done very controlled studies or the mules.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 2:38PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

Jon, virus theory has changed a lot in the last 20-30 years, so this may not be up to date. During the height of the AIDS outbreak, a dentist friend had employees were afraid to treat some of their gay patients. He had a virologist from UTHSC come in and talk to his employees. According to this guy, the AIDS virus has to have an appropriate host. It cannot live on the countertop (or on dental tools) for more than about 20 minutes. It almost has to go from host to host. I think we still have a lot to learn about HVX about how close to direct host to host you have to be to transmit the virus. It's complicated by the fact that some hosta are better hosts to the virus than others.

Also, there are several weedkillers now sold under the tradename of Round Up. The one that will be the most effective is the one for broadleaf plants. The old original Round Up is for grassy weeds and might kill a hosta if you used enough of it, but the one for broadleafed plants will be the most effective.

Les, I don't think there is an answer to your question. I don't think anyone knows the temperature that destroys HVX, nor does anyone know how long it remains in the soil. If they know, they haven't shared it where I've found it.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 5:00PM
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Jon 6a SE MA


To me there are similarities between AIDS in humans and HVX in hostas. Both are transmitted by exchange of fluids and only by exchange of fluids. Both can linger and be undetected for many years.

I use a generic concentrate. Roundup's patent has run out and now there are many knock-offs of their formula. Using a concentrate straight out of the bottle will kill hostas, I'm quite sure.

Buckeye's suggestion of surfactant is good, but I am totally unfamiliar with them. I do know that ordinary soaps and detergents are surfactants and perhaps mixing in a shot or two of Dawn (anti-HVX) in with the "Roundup" may help with penetration and it would help keep it on the leaves as a wetting agent as well. Outer and inner wetting would surely help as well. Dawn will kill any virus that may escape if any sap is produced accidentally.

Those who think that there is some chance of some of the virus surviving have nothing to lose by reducing the virus to a minimum which would surely be the case. Even if they don't believe every study conducted so far that conclude that the virus doesn't live without live tissue. Some viruses do; HVX does not.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 6:06PM
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