“All plants are sensitive to smoke,” David Clark said in answer to a question during a recent horticulture class at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.
Thursday, Nov. 17 is the 36th Great American Smokeout. Protecting your houseplants is one more reason for you to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day.
If you smoke, you probably notice that you have to wash your windows and mirrors more often because they get coated with smoke.
The same thing happens to your plants, too, Clark said. Smoking plugs up the leaves of your plants with tar.
In addition, a disease called tobacco mosaic virus can be transferred to your plants from cigarettes.
“That’s why you’re not allowed to smoke in a greenhouse,” Clark said.
The photo above shows how tobacco mosaic virus affects an orchid. In addition to houseplants, the virus can affect many outdoor plants including tomatoes, peppers, petunias, snapdragons, delphinium and marigolds.
Cigars, cigarettes and pipe tobaccos can be infected with tobacco mosaic virus. Handling these smoking materials contaminates the hands, and subsequent handling of plants results in a transmission of the virus, according to an article from the University of Minnesota Extension.
There are no good treatments for plants affected by tobacco mosaic virus, so don’t smoke while handling or transplanting plants, and do wash your hands frequently.
Better yet, quit smoking altogether. That way, you’ll have more money to spend on seeds, plants and gardening gadgets!