WSU Extension


Break (viruses) 

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Caption: Tulip break (virus)
Photo by: R.S. Byther
Tulip : Break (viruses)
(revision date: 4/23/2014)

Several viruses affecting tulips are spread by many species of aphids. Viruses overwinter in infected bulbs. White and yellow cultivars do not exhibit obvious symptoms, and therefore may increase the risk that the disease will spread to other tulips. Foliar symptoms are rare but may occur on some varieties. Flower petals show streaks, stripes, feathering, or flames of different colors. Symptoms vary according to cultivar and age at the time of infection. Lighter colors will appear as irregular streaks or fine feathering. Dark coloring occurs in the form of small streaks or elongated flecks. The flame pattern appears as narrow or broad streaks in the petal's center section, but may also occur near petal edges. Flower size, pollen production, and seed set are reduced. Viral symptoms may be easily confused with genetic variegation, which is readily available in commercial varieties.
Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Remove and destroy affected plants (including all daughter bulbs).
  • Purchase and plant virus-tested (found to be free of known viruses) material.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

None recommended. Aphid control using insecticides has not prevented spread.


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Caption: Tulip break (virus)
Photo by: R.S. Byther