We are all fed up with hearing about viruses but we are not alone in suffering from virus infection. Plants get virus infections too and, in most cases, they are present and we don’t notice. It is probable that most plants that are propagated vegetatively are infected with virus and we don’t notice because the effects are so small. Most virus are not spread by seed so growing from seed ensures that plants are free from infection. It is difficult to rid plants of virus infection but it is possible – though not at home. You can buy virus-free strawberry plants and these are produced by growing clean mother stock in a laboratory. The desired plant is grown in heat so they grow fast and the tiny growing tip (meristem) is cut out and grown on. The virus cannot reproduce as fast as the plant cells so is always present just behind the growing tip which is free of the infection.
The most noticeable viruses are those that cause streaking and striping of the foliage and flowers. Unfortunately these are easy to spread from plant to plant either by sap-sucking insects or on garden tools. And there is no cure. Affected plants have to be destroyed.
So I am very upset that all my ‘Ambergate’ daffodils are horribly virused. I went to pick some and at first noticed the striped leaves. It is a late daffodil and one of my favourites because it is one of the best orange daffodils, even though quite old now. Then I noticed the streaked flowers. These have got to be dug out or I risk it spreading to other daffodils. The bad thing is that these, like every other daffodil in the garden, was bought recently and there was nothing in the garden when I started so I was sold this problem.