Orchid Wise

From the Orchid Wise Shade House…..Cymbidium Orchid Virus

Every now and then we take a walk through the Orchid Wise Shade House to see what has been flowering or what else of interest might be happening. The Orchid Wise shade house is overflowing with all sorts! From species and primary hybrids to modern show bench hybrids and everything in between. You just never know what you’ll find! And this week it’s Cymbidium orchid virus…..

Today’s Cymbidium orchid focus is: Cymbidium orchid virus

There is a lot of discussion on various Cymbidium orchid Facebook groups these days about Cymbidium orchid virus. Plenty of photos posted and questions posed about whether a plant has a virus or not. I’m glad they ask, they are right to ask…….And unfortunately, I have to say, the vast majority do look very sick indeed. And this prompts a lot of what may seem very callous comments about getting rid of the plants in question.

And I know it’s easy for us to say ‘bin it’ from afar, and seemingly not care about an orchid that may have been handed down through the family or has some sort of significance, or is sentimental, or just simply that you paid good money for it.
But, let me assure you, we’ve been there and it’s for the better in the long run.  Better for you, and better for all of us. Cymbidium orchid virus is running rampant, and we need to do our bit to stop the spread.

For an in depth explanation on Cymbidium orchid virus, please read these pages.

About 10 years ago I lost an entire collection to fleck virus.  And when I’m talking about a whole collection, I’m talking over 500 plants, and about a third of them were uncommon, significant, or sentimental.  The collection had cost me many thousands over 15+ years.  I saw that much fleck virus, I consider myself to be a pretty decent expert on the subject.  The whole lot went in the bin.  Lock, stock, the $%*@#& lot.  It hurt……deeply!

And so the rebuilding began…..

I know I don’t have fleck virus in my yard these days.  I’ve done that much to prevent it, it doesn’t exist.  And I know it because after some further investigation, I realised the fleck in my plants had come from an old house, and by the time I noticed it in my plants I had moved to my current abode, and brought it with me.

Just to be truly sure, I sprayed the entire backyard, over and over, and I moved the location of my new shade house to the other side of the property, well away from any other tree or shrub that may harbour mites.

And I haven’t seen fleck virus since.

So I said goodbye to fleck virus, and hello to ORSV……
Last year I started a 100% testing regime of all of my new collection to ensure I didn’t have any other viruses, namely CymMV and ORSV, the two that we can easily test for.  I’m not sure why I started, as there were absolutely no symptoms in my plants at all.  They all looked spectacularly healthy.  

But one leaf on one plant looked a bit off when I decided to sell a couple of pieces of it and the purchaser asked if it was ‘clean’.  That division tested positive to ORSV.  I was horrified and devastated. 


I was adamant I wasn’t going to be the person that spread Cymbidium orchid virus around. And I absolutely had to have a virus free collection.

So off I went, and I tested every plant I had. Every…single one……..at an immense cost to say the least.
About 15%-20% tested positive for ORSV.  And given which plants tested positive, I know why and where it came from.  I keep very good records of what I buy and from whom, as well as when plants are virus tested and divided etc.  Unfortunately, the plants came from about half a dozen sources, which shows how widespread the problem is.  Plants originated from growers I had purchased numerous plants from over the years.  Growers that probably didn’t even know they had ORSV.  At least I hope they didn’t!


Luckily for me, my infected plants were limited, and confined to small areas.

And most important of all, 99% of the diseased plants were modern hybrids, and not my most prized species and primary hybrids.

As a result, some would now say I’m super paranoid about Cymbidium orchid virus.  Maybe so, and that’s probably very accurate, but that makes me confident enough to know I have a very clean collection these days. Not to say accidents won’t happen, but I’m very, very confident.

Not a plant enters the yard without being tested and I’m in the shade house every single day.

Spending as much time in the shade house as I do makes you notice things.  And the good thing is you notice things very quickly.  You notice if a plant has been moved,  is starting to look malnourished, or underwatered or if it is showing signs of virus.  

You get to notice everything.  And I mean everything….


Cymbidium Orchid Fleck Virus Strikes Again….


So today, as I’m walking through the shade house one particular plant caught my eye. Why?

I spotted orchid fleck virus. The problem was, why did I find it?  I know I don’t have it in my yard.

So back again to my spreadsheet to find out when and where I bought it.  

And again, it has come from a fairly well-known grower, who probably wouldn’t have even known the plant was infected with a Cymbidium orchid virus.  

I obtained the plant about a year ago, and as with every plant I receive, it was thoroughly inspected and tested on arrival, and I didn’t pick anything up.

It wouldn’t have been allowed in the shade house if it showed any symptoms after I received it.  I even quarantined it for a while just in case.  And it has taken a full year to get to a point where it was obvious enough that I noticed it.

All of the images in this article are of the plant I located today. They are text book images of fleck virus.

The only good thing is the plant was still well away from the bulk of the rest of the collection, and I know I don’t have mites, so the rest of my plants are safe.  Although I will continue to scrutinise every plant every time I’m in the shade house. It’s the habit I’ve got into.

So knowing it was fleck virus, and knowing it would test negative to the test kits we use, I have performed the test anyway as an example to show everyone that fleck virus simply doesn’t show up on a test kit, and to prove to myself that I have kicked ORSV!

The negative result, showing only the control line, is here on the right.

The Agitest Orchid Virus 2-in-1 Rapid Test (CymMV + ORSV) kits are available here from Barrita Orchids.

Stay Vigilant & Monitor Your Plants

Identifying fleck virus is simply a visual thing.  And shows exactly why you need to spend time in your shade house and why vigilance is the key to keeping a clean collection.

Unfortunately, this plant is an interesting plant, labelled as cym. insigne, however I believe it is actually Cym. seidenfadenii, or a hybrid of both.  Sadly, we will never be able to experiment further with it.

So off to the bin it went!  Even though I spent good money on it, and it was a plant I didn’t want to lose. However,iIt’s gone for the good of the collection, and for anyone I ever sell a plant too.

I have had the misfortune to purchase several virused plants this past year from people who are either uneducated on virus, or who simply don’t care.  I’ve had many an argument after positive tests on receipt about selling diseased plants, and some do not care at all. Please don’t be that person.  

Cymbidium orchid virus affects us all.  

Help us contain Cymbidium orchid virus and control it by being vigilant and destroying plants that are diseased, otherwise we won’t have a hobby at all…..

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