University of Illinois Extension

University of Illinois Extension

Hort Answers

Fungal Disease

Verticillium Wilt [Small Fruit Plants]
Verticillium albo-atrum and V. dahliae

1 (1 = rare 5 = annual)
5 (1 = very little damage 5 = plants killed)
Both of these Verticillium species attack a wide range of plants besides small fruit plants.

Plants Affected

The plant symptoms that result when this fungus attacks may be confused seasonal die-back of foliage and with other plant problems such as fusarium wilt, bacterial wilt, root rots as well as drought and damage due to excessive soil moisture.

Plants may be infected for awhile before symtoms become visible. Initially plants wilt. Wilting tissue soon begins to yellow then turn brown and die. Internal discoloration or streaking of the sapwood occurs in most plants.

Life Cycle

Verticilium albo-atrum is adapted for the cooler soils in the world so is not usually found in tropical soils. Verticillium dahlia is more commonly found in most soils around the world. Even though V. albo-atrum is not as common as V. dahlia, it is more likely to be fatal to most plants.

These two Verticillium species are root invaders. They do not live in the soil as saprophytic fungi but can survive in the soil for several years asspecialized "structures". Infected dead root systems improve the survival of these fungi in the soil. These fungi are often moved with infected soil or plants. They invade stressed roots. Plants that are blooming orfruiting tend to be more susceptible.


Avoid stressing plants, especially their roots. Maintain/provide proper moisture and soil drainage. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers - use balanced fertilizers or fertilizers with slightly higher phosphorus levels. Avoid deep cultivation around plants while they are growing. Avoid using herbicides if possible. If herbicides are used - spot treat (treat individual weeds very carefully). Remove infected plants and as much of the infected root system as soon as posible. Destroy the infected plants by burning or aerobic composting. Buy resistant plants whenever possible.

Do not grow these crops for at least three years where susceptible vegetables were grown or where a woody plant or other susceptible plants died from this disease.

Replant new strawberry beds every three to five years in a new location to minimize the beds from being infested with verticillium wilt.

Related Resources
Home, Yard & Garden Pest Guide
Illinois Commercial Landscape and Turfgrass Pest Management Handbook
U of IL - Distance Diagnosis through Digital Imaging
U of IL - Plant Clinic