Do Japanese maples with verticillium ever recover?

lucretia1June 21, 2009

I have a viridis Japanese maple that was planted in front of my house about 3 years ago. It's now having dieback that appears to be caused by verticillium (the pruned branches show that dark streaking.)

Has anyone been sucessful in saving an infected tree? About 1/3 of the tree has died back. Or should I call it quits now and replace it with something resistant?

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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

No. Some limp along for years, dying a little at a time. Others are gone rather quickly.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 11:54PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I had a Japanese Maple with all the symptoms of Verticillium. About a third of the tree was dead. Rather than digging it out I sawed it off at just above ground level with the idea I would dig it up later. I never did. It sprouted from the stump. I selected one sprout and let it grow. It is now about 15 ft. tall and showing no signs of Verticillium.
I have no explanation other than maybe it didn't have Verticillium. If it didn't, what could have been the problem?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 11:45AM
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I have had some that once I cut off the offending branches, were fine. I have an Everred that I cut off the top 2/3 of and now it weeps instead of being upright, but it still looks good. I have a Tamukeama (sp?) that I have had to cut branch after branch off. It seems to have stabalized now and I haven't had any more problems for two years. I think the thing you have to ask yourself is: "Do I want an attractive tree or just a live one?" If the maple looks terrible after the branches come off...I can't live with it. I'd rather take it out. I had an older Beni Otaki that I cut off just leaving a few healthy branches at the bottom, but it just looked stupid. I couldn't stand it, so it killed me, but I took it out. Also had some big ones die over winter and although they eventually sprouted one Waterfall that I had for years, I had to dig out. It really just depends on what you can live with, to me. Now maybe the verticillium will keep taking parts of your tree and that will answer your question without any thought about it.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 7:03AM
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There are other pathogens (pseudomonas, phytophthora, etc.) that will cause dieback and wilting on Japanese maples and many times these are confused or mistaken for VW. But JM's are inordinately susceptible to this problem, perhaps due to their rather delicate, easily damaged root system compared with most other species of maples, and IME, they seldom survive. Smaller, younger trees tend to fail rapidly compared to larger, more mature trees, which can live for years with the pathogen. Since it is a pathogen that attacks the tree's vascular system, that makes sense - larger trees will have a more extensive vascular system that may compartmentalize the pathogen, allowing portions of the tree to survive. You see this often with larger maple species.

But eventually, verticillium wilt IS fatal to Japanese maples, typically sooner rather than later :-( Should you elect to live with it for whatever time it has left, prune out and destroy the affected branches, making sure you disinfect your pruners with every cut. Fertilize moderately, avoiding high nitrogen fertilizers that encourage rapid, lush growth and keep the tree adequately hydrated. There is no chemical cure.

Japanese maples that survive apparent VW dieback long term most likely were infected with some other, less routinely fatal pathogen.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 10:12AM
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Hi Gardengal48,

What about the product known as "Phyton-27". Have you had any experience with it to extend the life of the JM?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 7:04PM
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esamart(z5 (Finland 2))

I had Acer triflorum which I noticed having dieback because of verticillium. In the autumn I did cut most of its growth off leaving only one low branch but there was black half of a ring visible in the trunk. Next spring I washed all the soil off and did major root pruning similar as for Bonsai and planted it to mostly sand with mulch on top.

When it started to leaf out I gave daily watering with diluted urea (which is a form of 50% nitrogen, heaping table spoon to a gallon). Growth was good and this is its third summer and it has had no dieback other than tips which die in winter because they keep growing until first freeze drops the leaves.

I remember reading long time ago that nitrogen is used to heal verticillium affected plants but did not found same article two years ago but tried it anyway. What is there to loose? Of course I was careful not to infect other plants and did root washing far and planted it to far corner as well.

Its original location I dig most soil to trash and then treated hole with a lot of lime which I also remember reading killing verticillium in ground.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2009 at 4:59PM
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Virtually any resource you find on verticillium wilt on Japanese maples cautions against the use of a high nitrogen fertilizer like urea. And if you think about it, it makes sense - rapid foliar growth can only additionally stress a tree that has a compromised vascular system. An infected tree just doesn't have the proper, intact internal mechanisms to process and support this type of growth. And nothing I've ever read on the subject indicates soil pH (adding lime) has any effect on the pathogen - the VW pathogen can be present under any soil condition, acidic, neutral or alkaline. And since Japanese maples prefer acidic soil conditions, adding lime to the soil would seem counterproductive, as well as having no significant impact on destroying or halting the pathogen.

I personally have no experience with Phyton 27 and any trials conducted using this product to treat VW have had inconclusive results.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 10:15AM
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I just saw this post but wanted to add to it. I have been growing acer palmatums for years and have about 25 of them. I've noticed that the best way to prevent disease is to give extremely well drained (almost dry) soil. I add large amounts of sand and mound when planting. Acer palmatums planted in clay soil often succumb to various disease which I can not identify. I have had many palmatums that have shown signs of VW and I have ultimately removed them. I have not always seen the signs of a "green/brown ring" inside the stem but I typically remove them if I start seeing the typical wilt of one branch at a time. Usually the plants I have suspected of having VW wilt and die within the time frame of a few months. I have had mixed results with Phyton-27. Phyton does not appear to "cure" VW as it is reported, though it is a great product. I always treat newly planted Palmatums with Phyton and they appear to remain clean. Once VW is evident in a palmatum Phyton does nothing to stop the spread.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 10:39AM
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"Phyton 27 and any trials conducted using this product to treat VW have had inconclusive results"

Actually the two years worth of work at Oregon State University were pretty conclusive....didn't work!!


    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 6:17PM
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