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Chrysanthemum Verticillium Wilt: Learn About Mum Verticillium Control

Chrysanthemum Verticillium Wilt: Learn About Mum Verticillium Control


By: Tonya Barnett, (Author of FRESHCUTKY)

Each fall, chrysanthemum plants are commonplace. Sold in front of grocery stores and homegarden centers, their vibrant pop of color is a welcome addition to porchdecorations as the weather begins to cool. While purchasing the plants is afoolproof way to ensure blooms, many gardeners prefer to propagate their own chrysanthemums from cuttings. Growing from cuttings allows for greatervariety and selection.

Although the process of growing these flowers is relativelysimple, there are some issues that may cause failure at bloom time, like chrysanthemumverticillium disease.

Verticillium of Chrysanthemums

While many plant issues and diseases show distinctive signsand symptoms early in the growing season, others do not. Chrysanthemumverticillium wilt is one of these and caused by certain types of verticillium fungus.

Mums with verticillium wilt are unique in that the presenceof infection may go undetected by growers throughout the vast majority of thegrowing season. Early growth of the plant is likely to appear normal. It is notuntil the plants have developed and started to form flower buds that they maybecome distressed.

Among the first signs of chrysanthemum verticillium diseaseis the sudden wilting of plants. This is especially noticeable on days that arewarm and sunny. In addition to wilt, the leaves of the plant may suddenlybecome yellow.

As the disease progresses, the yellowed leaves will begin todry and fall from the plant. In severe infections, the plant may completelylose its foliage. Often, this will result in the complete loss of the plant orin greatly diminished flowers.

Chrysanthemum Verticillium Wilt Control

When planting a mum, verticillium control and prevention isof great importance. Verticillium of chrysanthemums can be prevented bychoosing chrysanthemum varieties which have demonstrated resistance to the fungus. If thisis not possible, growers can reduce the likelihood of infection by purchasingplant cuttings from reliable and reputable sources.

Proper garden maintenance is another key to maintaininghealthy chrysanthemum plants. When planting, always maintain a schedule offlower bed rotation. This will help to reduce the occurrence of overwinteringthe disease in the soil. Make certain to promptly remove and discard anydiseased plant matter from garden as well to help prevent spread.

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Affected Plants

Many different ornamental and shade trees and shrubs can get verticillium wilt, including maple, redbud, and magnolia. Perennial flowers susceptible to the disease include asters, mums, shasta daisies, coreopsis, dahlias, larkspur, bleeding heart, peonies, and phlox.

In the vegetable garden, the members of the nightshade family (peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant) are the most commonly affected. The disease is also found in strawberries, and to a limited extent in raspberries, especially black raspberries.


Verticillium wilt: how to diagnose it, what to do about it

Verticillium wilt: It's the V in "VFN" tomato plants, as in "resistant to Verticillium wilt." But other vegetables are attacked by this fungal disease, as are numerous varied trees, shrubs and perennials. What's a gardener to do?

Verticillium fungi infect all kinds of plants, blocking their sap flow. This leads to overall wilting, yellowed leaves, dead twigs and branches, and poor crops yields. Those heirloom tomatoes you've fallen in love with? Quite prone to Verticillium. Those resistant new hybrid tomatoes? Losing their edge against new, tougher strains of Verticillium. There is no fungicide treatment available to home gardeners for this disease. Have I got your attention yet?

Verticillium wilt is a disease caused by one of two specific fungus in soil. Gardens across the US and Canada can harbor these fungi. They like conditions we'd probably describe as "very pleasant for our plants" but can withstand years of deprivation. Verticillium will survive adversity and become active when conditions favor it again. It flourishes in the warming soil temperatures of spring, enters a plant, and collapses its cells so that the first onset of hot weather brings "sudden" sickness.

Suspect verticillium wilt when you see these symptoms*

Vegetables, annuals, perennials

Trees and shrubs

Wilting of leaves on just part of the plant, not the entire plant

Yellowing and dying lower leaves

Yellowing of leaves in a V shaped patch between veins

Light brown discoloration in plant stems

Dead twigs in a limited area of the tree/shrub

Branches with few and smaller than normal leaves

Bark splits, bark seperates from wood

Single branch, or entire specimen, dies over period of weeks

Discolored or scorched leaves

Brown color in a ring (cutting sick branch crossways) or streaks in thw ood (when sick branch is cut lengthwise)

* While these are typical of Verticillium infection, other conditions can cause similar symptoms. Look for and rule out other possible problems. Absolute diagnosis of Verticillium wilt needs laboratory analysis.

Arboreal "atherosclerosis"

There are thousands of species of fungus in normal garden soil. The majority are benign or helpful to trees and flowers. Some are harmful to green plants. Verticillium dahliae and V. albo-atrum are known to infect many of the plants we find useful and pretty. The fungus invades the roots of plants. Then it clogs up the circulatory system of the plant. This "arboreal atherosclerosis" causes wilting and yellowing as the plant cannot deliver needed sap to all parts. The fungus favors mild soil temperatures around 70 degres, but the symptoms may appear more severe in hotter weather. That's when daytime heat extracts more moisture from the plants extremities than the clogged plant can provide.

Susceptible plants and trees

Unfortunately for us, Verticillium can infect a wide range of ornamental specimens and food plants. The majority of vegetables are infected to some degree. Among trees, maples and redbuds are generally very vulnerable to Verticillium. Many other trees can be infected. Quite a few favorite shrubs, from azalea to Viburnum, can suffer this ailment. Perennials and annuals can be stricken many aster family plants are at risk from Verticillium, as are Dahlias, as you may have guessed from the species name of one of the offending organisms.

Is anything safe?

The situation sounds dire, and indeed there are lists of plants of all types that can fall prey to this wilt see the links in Resources below. Fortunately, other plants shrug off Verticillium see the same links for their lists of plants resistant or immune to this disease.

Monocots (plants in the "grass" family) do not suffer from Verticillium wilt. Monocots have generally elongated leaves with veins that run lengthwise on the leaf. This group includes loads of plants that may not instantly come to mind as grasslike. All kinds of Lilies are members of this tribe. Iris and Hostas are, too. In the vegetable garden, asparagus and any onion type crop (onions, chives, garlic, leeks) are monocots, and thus safe from Verticillium. In shrub and tree size specimens, the selection narrows greatly. Bamboos and palms are the large members of this group.

Common evergreens with needle like, evergreen leaves are safe here. They are "gymnosperms'" and members of this group do not suffer from Verticiloium wilt. Pines, junipers, and yews can be considered safe from Verticillium. And though a Ginkgo tree is deciduous and not "needle leafed," it is a gynosperm and thus also safe.

Garden practices to avert Verticillium

Crop rotation is a tried and true, traditional method of disease control. When plants appear to have Verticillium, be sure not to plant Verticillium prone plants in the same spot the following year. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, strawberries and raspberries are all prone to similar Verticillium strains. Break the cycle of verticillium by not planting any of these crops in the same spot year to year. In the years between, if possible, plant grasses or grass family crops. Keep the area weeded so verticillium cannot harbor in alternate host plants. Asparagus and all alliums are resistant. Sweet potatos, beans and peas, lettuce, and carrots are less prone to this wilt.

Choose tomatoes of resistant hybrid varieties. Catalogs and labels should indicate resistance a " VFN resistant" cultivar resists Verticillium, Fusarium, and nematodes.

Burn or destroy (do not compost) any clippings or leaves from sickened plants. When the entire vegetables or flowering plants are removed, include the rootball. Disinfect tools after using them on verticillium-affected plants.

Good care keeps plants and trees in tiptop shape. Then they are most able to resist infection. Attention to soil fertility and proper watering reduces the stress that makes plants most vulnerable. Use proper planting methods to prevent the root damage. Damaged roots are more easily infected.

Extent of infection on trees and shrubs is subject to several variables. Prune out affected branches from trees and shrubs. Limited branch loss on woody plants does not necessarily dictate removal of the entire specimen. When a woody plant must be removed due to Verticillium wilt, do replace with a resistant choice.


  • Rotate crops. The verticillium fungus can survive indefinitely in the soil. Plant tomatoes no more than once every four years in the same spot. Avoid planting other Solanaceous crops (potato, pepper, and eggplant) in the same area, too – they are susceptible to the fungus.
  • Choose disease-resistant tomato varieties. A “V” listed after the variety name on its label indicates its resistance to the verticillium fungus.
  • Plant tomatoes in well-drained soil.
  • Remove and destroy affected plants at the end of the season.

Verticillium wilt also attacks eggplant, okra, pepper, potato, strawberries, and 200+ other plants.


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