|These mottled leaves on my Clivia could be telling me a sad, sad story. Oh, dear.|
You might know of my constant quest for unkillable houseplants. When I find one purported to be Helenproof, I’m on it like bees (or Battersbys) on honey. How thrilled I was to hear about Clivia, an easy-to-care-for flowering bulb or geophyte in the Amaryllis family.
It likes shade (hooray!), tolerates drought (perfect!) and, oh, was that really one (no, five bulbs in the pot) for just $5 on the members’ table at a garden club plant sale last spring? With a large Christmas cactus or two (Schlumbergera, another easy-care plant) wedged in for good measure? Sold!
But examining the emerging new leaves this week, I unhappily noticed pale blotches. Why, Google, why? Which took me to this page by Clivia enthusiast and grower Jim Shields, where I read these words, “Once a clivia plant has been infected with a virus, there is no hope of cure for it.”
Sob. Another plant ruined! I am a very unhappy girl. It spent time outdoors last summer; could that be when it was infected? In one last, desperate measure, I have emailed Mr. Shields with a picture of my leaves. Or, more properly, the leaves of my clivia. Let’s see if he replies, and what he says.
Viruses can affect a wide range of bulbs. As you can read on this page from the Pacific Bulb Society, bulbs can even catch cucumber mosaic virus – which, despite its name, has more than 1,000 possible hosts. Sometimes you’ll see the effect of a virus on tulips in your garden, which develop interesting streaks in their petals for a year or two, before they dwindle away to nothing. Be aware, friends.