The picture above is an example of Epiphyllum hybrid 'OVER THE TOP' with the virus, below shows 'OVER THE TOP' without the virus; notice the backpetals of the bloom above have the typical gold streaks in most virus infected plants and the picture below is absent of this. Even though you can not always expect consistancy of the bloom pictured with virus its still a spectacular bloom in my opinon. Thanks Ron for allowing the use of your picture! Most likely both of these plants origonated as clones from the same mother plant only ones infected/one not, so they are the same hybrid or exact clones.
What is the Virus in Epiphyllums anyways?
Well contrary to first impression the virus discussed in Cactus plants in general has little effect in the plants growth usually. The blooms though will tend to have spectacular colored variegation with unusual colored midstripping. The problem exists that a virused plant will not have consistent colored blooms. A bloom one day will not match a bloom opening the next, or from one season to another on the same plant.
Growth in a virused Epiphyllum plant
Growth in a virused Epiphyllum plant can sometimes be noticeable by variegation in the stems, but not always. Sometimes a grower might think the plant has the virus due to this coloring of light green or yellow in new growth. Epiphyllums new growth can do this naturally virused or not. Older growth having this can be a sign. Sometimes if grown in low light levels older growth can show variegation too, but itís not a sign of the virus when it occurs in low light levels, more a sign not enough chlorophyll in low light conditions.
How do plants get the virus?
1) Unsterilized cuts with tools not cleaned between each cut from one plant to another. Snap stems off then make clean cuts with scissors using a 10% bleach solution on known virused plants. Have another container ready with clean water to rinse off the bleach before touching the stem again or rinse the stem cut end in clean water.
2) Cactus roots fusing together. Two plants planted together can fuse there roots transferring the virus.
3) Plants grown on grafts have a higher percentage of getting the virus especially if the host graft plant is ground planted due to fusing of the roots. Just because it came from a graft does not mean it has the virus its just one way it can be spread. If the host graft itself has the virus the same is true for the Epiphyllum grafted to it.
What is a graft? Watch the video below to understand typical Epiphyllum to Opuntia grafting.
Is the virus a terrible thing?
Well there are many that have varying opinions on this. I personally enjoy the spectacular blooms you get even though I know I might not get a repeat that is the same ever time. I have a few in my collection that do have the virus but always sterilize so not to infect other plants in my collection should I trim a cutting from one. They grow fine. I donít grow any plants from grafts so thereís little chance of any getting infected by accident. All varieties I grow are in there own containers so thereís never 2 varieties planted together. Most virused plants have spectacular blooms and I do enjoy them for that. As long as you follow the safe practices mentioned above I see no harm in growing virused plants at all.
Virus is a scary word to some, I suppose if you have a virus in your computer it would be something to worry about, or if you contracted an untreatable virus yourself an even bigger worry! In Epiphyllums or other cactus plants I see little harm as long as itís contained and not spread around carelessly.
Below is an example of Epiphyllum Hybrid 'Hasina' without the virus and another 'Hasina' that has neon purple and gold streaks with the virus
Epiphyllum CV 'Letty May' Shown below on a plant which has no virus load (99% Virus free)Note: If you look very close to one of the outside petals lower right 4- O'Clock theres a streak and another on left at 7- O' Clock, but thats about it.
Another plant of the same variety Epiphyllum CV 'Letty May' is shown below with a high virus load. This perticular variety is known to have varying degrees of virus load, not all clones of this variety have the same percentage due to virus exposure of each. So the picture above shown low load and below one thats on the opposite end HIGH load. NOTE: This perticular variety can have many ranges of virus load in between.The picture above is a different plant and below another but both are the same variety.
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