Viruses in the Garden

Cucumber leaf showing the characteristic mottling of the cucumber mosaic virusCucumber leaf showing the characteristic mottling of the cucumber mosaic virus photo: Scot Nelson


There are many kinds of viruses that can infect a wide variety of plants all over North America, including beans, celery, corn, cucurbits, peas, peppers, spinach, and tomatoes. Symptoms vary with the specific virus, but include mottling, streaking, puckering, or curling of leaves. An example is cucumber mosaic virus, which infects cucurbits, tomatoes and peppers, causing green and yellow mottling of leaves, curled leaves, stunted plants, and fruits with light splotches and warty bumps on them. Many viruses are spread from plant to plant by sucking insects such as aphids and leafhoppers as they feed. Consult your county Extension Service for help with a specific diagnosis.

Prevention And Control:

Control insects that spread disease. Pull up and burn infected plants. Choose resistant varieties when available. Buy certified virus-free seed potatoes. Control weeds that harbor viruses. 

Cucumber showing mottling from mosaic virusCucumber fruit show typical mottling caused by cucumber mosaic virus. Photo courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dept. of Plant Pathology.

Last updated: 03/18/2024