Orchid Diseases

Orchid diseases can be either Viral or Fungal. Its important to monitor your plants for diseases affecting orchids because they can spread from plant to plant, and kill all of your plants.

Orchid Viruses are not common. About 26 different viral diseases affecting orchids have been found. Unlike funguses, viruses are invisible, and it may not be obvious that your plant is infected. Viruses are not transmitted from plant to plant through the air. Instead, they are spread through sap to sap contact. This can happen in the case of an aphid infestation, or through using un-sterilized tools.

The symptoms of orchid virus are subtle at first, and can mimic other orchid diseases. Often you will see slight yellow or whitish streaking. As it progresses, you may see brown pitting on the leaf. In severe cases, the leaf is bleached out, there is alot of brown pitting, and on the underside of the leaf there is brown and black streaking. Unlike fungus infections, the damage will appear to penetrate the leaf, rather than stay on the surface.

Avoid Spreading Orchid Virus:

  • Choose plants that appear healthy - skip the marked down plants
  • When cutting flowers or leaves always use sterile cutting tools
  • When dividing plants, sterylize tools before and after
  • Use clean latex gloves when repotting or dividing plants. Change gloves for each plant.
  • Water orchids individually...Do not use one bucket of water for soaking multiple plants.
  • Repot orchids individually....place plant and growing medium on newspaper and do not reuse the paper for the next plant.

There is no cure for orchid virus and the plant should be disposed of before it can infect other plants

The most accurate way to test for viral infection is to send a tissue sample to a lab for analysis. Virus home testing kits are also available, but may not be as accurate.

For information on Fungus diseases affecting orchids, check out the links below.

Fungal Diseases Affecting Orchids

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