University of Maryland Extension

Viruses of Houseplants

virus on impatiens

  • Symptoms of virus infections include necrotic spots, abnormal dark green and light green mosaic and mottling patterns (streaking or light and dark green or yellow patches) of leaves, distorted or stunted growth, necrotic, or yellow ring patterns on the foliage, enations or bump like growths, and abnormal flower coloration or formation.
  • Plants may also be infected by more than one virus strain. Even if plants don't show obvious symptoms they may still be infected with viruses.
  • Frequently after the initial virus infection symptoms secondary growth may be symptomless.
  • Viruses can be spread by infected sap on tools or by hand as well as sucking or chewing insects, such as aphids and thrips.
  • Tobacco products often have a virus called tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) in them that remains infective for long periods of time and can be transferred to healthy plants by people who handle these products.
  • Infected plants used for propagation will also spread virus infections.

Management Strategies

  • There is no cure for infected plants and disposal of infected plants is recommended to prevent further spread to healthy plants.
  • Do not use infected plants for propagation, inspect newly purchased plants carefully for virus symptoms, and insects. People who use tobacco products should wash with soap before handling plants.


Mottled leaves on gerbera daisy

 virus orchid
Virus symptoms on orchid leaves

virus on impatiens
Virus symptoms on impatiens

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