The Great Outdoors


Tomato Mosaic Virus is a virus that strikes not only tomatoes but also many other flowers and vegetables as well. Sadly, there is no cure for the virus so the only alternative is to dig up not just the infected plants, but also the ones on either side, then discard them. DO NOT through them into your compost pile as the virus can remain in the soil for up to 50 years and it will effect most any other plants placed in the same location. Any tools used to dig up or attempts to prune away the disease will be infected with the virus and will subsequently be passed on to other plants in your garden.

The virus has the look of dark green mottled areas or stunted growth, fruit deformities and the reduction of the amount of fruit. Leaves may develop a “mosaic” pattern and when the fruit is cut open, the insides may have brown areas. Leaves may curl, turn yellow and become fern-like. There are no chemicals available that will cure or even prevent the virus from happening. Only careful selection of healthy plants and planting in a safe location can prevent the disease from happening. Never plant in an area where the problem previously occurred. Do not try to fix the area but rather look for a new location for your garden.

Contaminated tools must be boiled in water for 5 minutes then washed with soap and water. Note that “bleach” is not a solution that works for sterilization of infected tools. Also, be sure and wash your hands after handling infected plants as the virus is easily passed on by your hands and pruners. Washing your hands first with “milk”, then soap and water is highly recommended.

It is a known fact that smoking plays a big factor in catching “Tomato Mosaic Virus” and that you should never handle plants after smoking unless you have washed your hands at least 3 times first. Other plants effected by this disease include peppers, snapdragons, delphinium, marigolds, cantaloupe, cucumbers, squash, spinach, celosia, impatiens, ground ivy, phlox and zinnia. The virus is often confused with other problems such as mineral deficiencies, weed killers, or air pollution. But if you smoke then handle plants, it’s probably Tomato Mosaic Virus Disease.

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Doug Hackbarth

Doug's is the former owner of Broadview Florist & Greenhouses in Waynedale. He authors a garden & landscaping article in the newspaper. In his adolescence he attended Hillcrest, Kekionga and Elmhurst HS. His expertise has been shared in print, tv and radio. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer