University of Maryland Extension

Verticillium Wilt

early leaf symtoms of verticillium wilt
Early symptoms of verticillium wilt includes yellowing or off color of scattered branches

Key Points

  • Verticillium Wilt is a common disease problem occurring on shrubs caused by the common soil fungus Verticillium spp.
  • Some commonly grown shrubs that are susceptible to verticillium wilt include azalea, daphne, hibiscus, osmanthus, lilac, photinia, rose, spirea, viburnum, and weigela. 
  • Management

young tree infected with verticillium wilt disease
Young tree infected with verticillium wilt

Symptoms 

  • Early symptoms usually start as a yellowing or off color of scattered branches.
  • These symptoms are usually followed by wilting and sudden dieback of infected limbs especially during drought or in the heat of summer.
  • Eventually the entire plant may wilt and die, however established shrubs may live for years with dieback symptoms before succumbing.
  • Sunken cankers with bark splitting may develop on infected limbs.
  • A partial list of resistant shrubs includes dogwood, firethorn, flowering quince, holly, and rhododendron.

branch with verticillium
Cross-section of branch showing discoloration of vascular tissue from verticillium

Management

  • Some cultural practices can help to prolong the life of infected plants in the landscape.
  • Prune out wilted and dead branches.
  • Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers. 
  • Water during drought and use mulches to conserve water and control weeds.
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