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Acer Sango Kaku suffering from Verticillium Wilt - what to do next?

Hello ladies and gents,

I got my back garden done couple of yeas ago and I planted an Acer Sango Kaku in the corner at the back to be the focal point of the garden. This corner doesn't get a lot of sunlight (in summer it does) and the soil there always seems to retain a lot of moisture but I never see water on the surface.

I coudn't take a picture of the Acer tree but here's a picture of the garden I took 2-3 weeks ago and you can see the Acer in the left hand corner at the back.

The Acer was growing well but last year I noticed some of the leaves were wilting (curling up and turning brown) but I didn't think much of it. I removed the leaves (but left them at the bottom of the plant to become compost). I don't remember noticing any of the branches going dark/black however few weeks ago I noticed a lot of the branches had become black and there weren't any buds forming on these branches, basically they were dead looking. Last night and this morning I did quite a bit of googling and came to the conclusion that my Acer was suffering from Verticillium Wilt as it was showing all the symptoms. I decided to remove all of the branches that were affected (basically about 2/3 of the tree :( ). I see where I cut them, there were still dark rings in the remaining tissue so I think the whole plant is infected and will probably die at some stage in the future.

I also planted a Rambling Rose plant (Malvern Hills from David Austin) about a 1m from the Acer in the same corner and this was growing well until last year when I noticed on a couple of the major branches there weren't any leaves or flowers. Today I removed these branches. they weren't black (nor did they display dark rings inside the stem) like the Acer branches but they didn't look healthy. I am wondering if this rose is also infected with Wilt? 

Do you think I should completely remove the Acer? What about the Rambling rose? 
Would you adivse against planing another Acer there? (I really like Acer plants and want it to be the focus of my garden). If so what do you recommend? (A medium sized plant that doesn't get taller than 3-4m and no wider than 1-2 m)?

Many thanks.


  • cammy0102cammy0102 Posts: 49
    Are there any Acer varieties resistent to wilt? 
  • PerkiPerki Posts: 2,452
    If it is Verticullian wilt its not good news, try this link to RHS website ( if I've done it right )
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 11,135
    I have an acer katsura with VW.
    I first noticed it about 3 years ago and it was diagnosed by a forum member.
    It hasn't killed the tree but it is not growing as it should. I have the same leaf dying and curling and blackened branches.
    It still looks 'nice' but not as it should.
    Best only to prune acers in the dead of winter (and no later than Jan) as they bleed.
    There's no cure and acers are particularly susceptible - there are no resistant varieties.
    The RHS link above gives reference to a list of vulnerable plants and once VW is in your soil there's not much you can do about it.
    Try not to let soil from that part of your garden get elsewhere or you risk transferring the virus - a lot easier said than done though!

    Billericay - Essex

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • cammy0102cammy0102 Posts: 49
    Do you think it's better to take the plant out completely and plant something else in there? Is it worth taking a punt and planting another Acer??
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 11,135
    Your choice really. No point in planting another acer - the same will happen. Choose something that is not affected by VW or just accept that that acer will probably never by tree-like and may die at some point. 
    Mine is taking the shape of a shrub rather than a tree. Multiple stems and shoots coming from everywhere and they grow strongly. I trim off the dead bits now and then to keep it looking tidy and it does look good, just not  tree-like
    If afraid we're both stuck with the same problem and just have to work round it best we can. There's no realistic way of getting rid of it.

    Billericay - Essex

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 11,135
    A problem with pruning acers is they bleed if the sap is active.
    Another problem is that they don't go properly dormant until after a period of several weeks of cold weather.
    I have big (and healthy) acer in the front garden and pruning it this winter has caused it to bleed because we've had no proper cold weather here this winter to send it to sleep, just a couple of frosts and no snow. It dripped sap for 3 weeks or more, but I had to prune as it was over a public footpath, so just hope it's ok.

    Billericay - Essex

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • cammy0102cammy0102 Posts: 49
    Thanks for the replies.

    Pete, so your Acer is looking OK now? I wonder if it'll start growing now that I have removed about 2/3 of branches. When you say it doesn't look like a tree do you mean it's not very tall? I don't really need my Acer to grow in to a big tree but if it gets to 2-3m then I'm happy. 
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 11,135
    I'll get a photo tomorrow.
    It's got the disease so die-back will happen where the virus blocks sap reaching the ends of branches and releases toxins which kills the remaining bit of branch.
    After a while it looks a bit tatty so a couple of times a year I snip the dead bits off, but only do any proper pruning in the dead of winter.
    It has a main trunk but behaves as if I've coppiced it (whereas it's the virus that has sort-of 'coppiced' it)- lots of small branches appear up the trunk, then they send out branches. It's about 7ft high. It just doesn't have the open graceful habit of a typical acer - like this one in my front garden -

    This does not have the virus

    I'll post a pic of my VW Katsura tomorrow pm as by then it'll be in good light
    (an idea for Volkswagen maybe..)

    Billericay - Essex

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • I always thought they were happier in the ground ... but more recently I've been growing them in pots.

    I was battling dieback similar to that described by the OP here.  Although the mature tree had been transplanted and had suffered root system damage plus winter waterlogging.

    So it was kinda hard to tell what was wrong tbh.  But the root system had rotted and there was some very unpleasant odours coming from the clay/rotted root mix.

    Lab tests are the only way and I don't think they are a viable option in the UK, making this kind of thing happen in the US seems easier.

    I realise this doesn't help but I think if you can somehow take some tissue and get it tested just to see what really is the issue, I think sometimes a tree can be suffering from various things but potentially one ailment allowed the others to take hold.  

    Was there any bark damage on this tree at any point?  Some scrapes or indentations?
  • cammy0102cammy0102 Posts: 49
    How do they get infected with Wilt in the first place? Is it possible the fungus was already in the ground when it was planted and the plant only started showing symptoms a year later  
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