Is this Verticillium wilt?

diggingthedirtNovember 8, 2009

I saw this disease mentioned on a thread about Cotinus, and now I'm concerned that it may be the answer to a question I've had for a couple of weeks - about three or more different kinds of woody plants in my garden

A pair of Cotinus 'Royal Purple' was looking spectacular one day, and the next day almost all the leaves on ONE of them had turned brown and shriveled up. A week later, one of a pair of crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia) that had been in glorious red foliage suddenly turned tan and shriveled - these were 2 different varieties, whose names escape me at the moment. Next to go was one (of 5) Stewartia pseudocamellias. Their fall foliage isn't too spectacular anyway, at least when fairly young, like mine are, but this was a seemingly overnight, total browning.

We had a VERY wet season; rain through all of June and several long wet periods with little heat through the summer. I've never had such awful foliage on tree peonies, most of which turned a uniform dark brown - even my trusty Viburnum rhytidophyllum (leatherleaf vib) had some sort of weird foliage problems (gray mottling) for the first time in about 20 years.

I'd like to see if I can diagnose this so it can be contained, If it's v. wilt, I've read that there is no treatment; so presumably the best action would be removing the effected plants.

Can I check for the cambium stain myself, or should this be done by a lab, or maybe by the Cooperative extension service?

Thanks for any advice - DtD

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

While cotinus is known to be susceptible to verticillium, neither the Stewartia or crape myrtles are recognized as being prone to this pathogen. That doesn't mean it can be eliminated as an issue, only that it is rather unlikely. There are other problems that can present similar symptoms of wilting or premature leaf drop but if this is just something that has come about in the past few weeks, I'd be more inclined to attribute it to a poor and wet growing season. Verticillium usually becomes evident in midseason, typically in the height of summer.

If you have concerns about the cotinus, I'd look to your extension service for a diagnosis. The staining often associated with VW is not necessarily always present or uniform -- sometimes tissue testing is required.

How is your drainage overall? If your soil drainage is generally good (wet summer aside), then I'd recommend waiting to see how these plants emerge in spring before I made any hasty moves. If it is VW, there's not much you can do about it now anyway but I'm leaning more towards just the effects of a poor, wet growing season.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2009 at 9:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, gardengal. Drainage here isn't much of an issue, especially for the cotinus, which is at the top of a stone retaining wall. Our soil's glacial outwash, so there are layers of sand, clay and silt, with sand being the most prevalent. I've got 20 years worth of compost worked in to most of the beds as well, and being a compulsive digger, most of the clayey subsoil has been removed over the years.

My garden is probably too tightly packed with plants, however, so it's possible that another fungus is responsible - something that has hit the leaves directly. An airborn fungus seems like it would have a better prognosis, so I'm really hoping this isn't VW! I'll take your advice and see what happens next spring (I can't wait).
Thanks again -DtD.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2009 at 11:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

can you tell the diff between mildew and fungus...

powdery mildew is the first thing that came to my mind.. and is prevalent wit a lack of air circulation.. in an over-stuffed garden ...

words just arent going to get you very far here.. you either need to post some pix... or head to the extension agent

good luck


    Bookmark   November 8, 2009 at 1:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

With the clayey subsoil, do you tend to get puddling after heavy rains? I have a swamp at the bottom of my yard. Because of the wet weather, the squish has seeped into more of the yard than usual, and areas that are usually fine aren't. This is what I'm attributing the sudden browning/leaf drop of a volunteer maple near the top of the swamp to.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 8:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No puddling here, especially (now that I think about it) in any of the 3 locations where these shrubs are: top of the wall, my old vegetable garden, and a double-dug mixed bed that has never gotten any kind of compaction (because there's a low "dog fence" around it).

I have photos of the stewartia and crape myrtle in this album; actually 2 specimens of each, before and after, to show that one is completely brown and the other is still in color. Maybe this is overkill ... and I should just wait and see what happens in spring.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 10:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

frankly.. the pics look like my garden.. after the first hard frost ...

i do NOT grow most of the plants you ask about... but i do have a smokebush .. it is deciduous up here.. so browning leaves in november.. isnt all that surprising...

frost is a weird creature.. able to hit a whole plant.. or just parts of the plants.. especially in an over-stuffed garden ....

frost would also answer why otherwise evergreen plants for your zone might be affected ....

there is a website that tracks temps by zip code ... but i dont have the link .... see link

but i think you are on the right track ... its november... its not really time to be FIXING things with chemicals.. or jumping to conclusions about removal .. personally i would wait until spring and see what develops ....

one other oddity.. is that in your otherwise.. presumably healthy garden.. a bunch of diverse plants.. get a weird malady.. overnight.. again.. bringing me back to frost .... the odds of such is astronomical ... but for wild temp swings ....

good luck


Here is a link that might be useful: it popped into my head

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 9:05AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Azalea bonsai show - images
Pictures taken on February 18, 2015, Huzhou city, Hunan...
Thuja occidentalis smaragd browning
Hi. I planted these Thuja occidentalis smaragds about...
Name of this shrub?
I took this cutting from my Aunt's yard and don't remember...
Need suggestions
Hi everyone, I need to plant something in the front...
Evergreen Privacy Shrub Hedge
I want to plant an evergreen shrub hedge as a privacy...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™