Virus questions

Mary Sue Ittner
Fri, 12 Jul 2002 05:29:55 PDT
Dear All,

Some of you may know about my virused Sparaxis, but here is some background for the others. Alberto Castillo suggested that this very pretty red Sparaxis that had developed white flecks in the flower was probably virused. Although I knew about the virused tulips that had been so popular, it really hadn't occurred to me that could be it since the plants seemed quite healthy, were flowering well, and increasing nicely.

So I decided to test a handful of plants that were questionable. I chose a Lachenalia that I was sure was virused since the leaves had the mosaic pattern and they are prone to virus, a yellow hybrid Sparaxis that looked just fine to me but was close to the other, a Romulea that had leaves that looked sick, and a Brodiaea terrestris. The latter had leaves that were more yellow than I remembered when they emerged. It was subtle, but worth exploring. I tossed the Romulea before getting the results as I was sure it had to be virused and the others I isolated. The Romulea was the only one not virused and it was already gone. It must have been cultural with it or maybe it just had not been happy with all the rain we got in November and December. I have removed any Sparaxis that I could find with color break in the petals plus many of the others. I had them all over my garden and I am sure I didn't get them all. And I tossed the Lachenalia and will try to grow it again from seed. But I kept the Brodiaea until I could get seed since I am fond of it and it is so hard to collect seed from the wild as once it stops flowering it just gets lost in the yellowing grass which is much taller than it is.

I bought a soil sterilized this year, but have yet to get a piece of sheet metal to go under it so have been cooking soil in the microwave. When you get close to 1000 pots, creating new mixes every year gets prohibitive. I have found that sometimes I have missed some small corms in the mix and once the soil has cooled find them. Those corms look fine which surprises me. They probably aren't and I suppose I'd have to grow them on to find out. What I am wondering is what would happen to my Brodiaea terrestris if I cooked them in the microwave with the soil. If I am going to toss them anyway, I shouldn't have anything to lose. They are supposed to die with wet hot conditions, but I remember reading about a plot that was covered with black plastic to kill weeds before seeding with wild flowers. After several months the plastic was removed and Dichelostemma capitatum that had been there but not seen because of the weeds was coming up. It was sort of a fire effect. High temperatures are supposed to kill viruses. What does everyone think? Am I just making work for myself?

Also I was reading Bill Richardson's article in BULBS about ways of dealing with pests with common ingredients available to us like garlic. He can probably give a reference for his site on the web for any members of this group who might not be members of IBS and have read it. In it there is a suggested treatment for virus that I had missed the first time I read it. I had always read there was no solution. Bill, do you know anyone who has tried it and found it works?

I am hoping for responses. As you can imagine this has gotten me really freaked. I have been asking everyone I can about viruses and there seems so little concrete information. Even the man who called with the results could not tell me what other plants might be at risk.

Mary Sue 

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