Q: The leaves on one of my hosta plants are curled, but they never were before. The plant came up that way this year. My other hostas don’t look like that. What’s going on?
— E.S., Akron
A: Judging from the leaf sample you provided, it looks like your plant has been infected with a virus called hosta virus X. The virus causes a variety of symptoms, one of which is a puckering of the leaves. That’s what happened with yours.
Unfortunately, there’s no treatment for an infected plant. In an Ohio State University Extension fact sheet on the topic, plant pathologist Dennis J. Lewandowski recommends removing and destroying the plant. Don’t compost it, because that could spread the disease.
If you want to plant another hosta in that spot, wait till any remaining bits of root have decomposed so there’s no residual virus in the soil, Lewandowski says. It’s OK to put another kind of plant there, because the virus affects only hostas.
The disease can be spread to other hostas when sap from an infected plant touches a fresh wound on a healthy plant — for example, when the same tool is used to divide or trim both plants. Since a plant can be diseased before it shows symptoms, the fact sheet recommends disinfecting tools regularly, ideally between hosta plants. Tools can be disinfected with a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water.
Lewandowski’s fact sheet, HYG-3069-08, can be found at http://ohioline.osu.edu.
Have a question about home maintenance, decorating or gardening? Akron Beacon Journal home writer Mary Beth Breckenridge will find answers for the queries that are chosen to appear in the paper. To submit a question, call her at 330-996-3756, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your full name, your town and your phone number or email address.