I live in Victorian Village. We had a beautiful blooming Wisteria and a 5 yr...

Asked May 30, 2018, 2:50 PM EDT

I live in Victorian Village. We had a beautiful blooming Wisteria and a 5 yr old plum tree, both bloomed abundantly this spring. Suddenly we noticed the Wisteria dying in sections, then the plum tree. I the past twoo weeks the wisteria is all but dead. We have an old 15 ft stump from a large tree we had to cut down 7 years ago, I noticed mushrooms growing in the trunk and at the base of the tree, is this Fungus root rot? I now see some damage on our 100 yr old elm, one branch is dropping yellow leaves, im thinking the roots have been damages as they are all in close proximity. What can we do to save our trees? should we cut the stump down? how would we treat the root rot? Thanks so much, Denise Bridgette

Franklin County Ohio

1 Response

Dear Denise,

The sad fact about any living thing is that it doesn't live forever. It's too bad that each of your landscape features are having issues at the same time.

I want to consider each of these plants individually. First, the wisteria. Texas A&M has a fact sheet listing the problems wisteria can encounter: https://plantdiseasehandbook.tamu.edu/landscaping/shrubs/wisteria/. The ones listed include bacterium, fungi, and nematodes. Our own fact sheet from Ohio State provides a good synopsis of wisteria's characteristics, but also suggests as many other sites do, that the plant benefits from a good pruning: https://hvp.osu.edu/pocketgardener/source/description/wisteria.html. The University of Arkansas is even more specific in that regard:
Most of our problems with wisteria come from our timidity - our unwillingness to prune the vine. Because it produces such a tangle of twining vines, the only sensible time to prune it is in the winter when you can more or less see what you are doing. Don’t let it grow for a number of years and then try to prune. Instead, prune it some every year and try to keep ahead of its rambunctious nature. Wintertime pruning reduces the number of blooms, but it flowers at almost every node, so they always have plenty of blooms. This is the complete article: https://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/wisteria.aspx

Your plum tree may well be suffering from two similar problems: fungus and a lack of pruning. Our fact sheet on plums and cherry trees discuss these issues and remedies in detail: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/plpath-fru-31

Regarding the 15-foot stump you have left in your yard, the fungi are feeding on the decaying matter in the trunk. These are not necessarily the same type of fungi that could harm your plum or wisteria. The University of Minnesota has a photo ID guide to fungi that feed on tree trunks: https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/plant/deciduous/maple/branchesfungi.html
The trunk probably should have been removed. Penn State's fact sheet is emphatic about removing trees that can be a danger: https://extension.psu.edu/tree-diseases-that-create-hazards.

It is impressive that you still have an elm tree. When we moved to our street, it was lined with elms and in the past 35 years, they have nearly all been cut down. The chief enemy to elms is Dutch elm disease. Again, Penn State has an excellent fact sheet on the diseases of elm trees. You can take a look, but unfortunately to me it sounds as if your tree has the beginnings of Dutch elm disease: https://extension.psu.edu/elm-diseases.

Since your landscaping features have so many significant issues, I am going to suggest that you consult with an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. This is its guide to locating an aroborist in your area: https://www.isa-arbor.com/For-the-Public . You will not have any trouble finding one here in the Columbus area.

You may be faced with replacing some of your plant material this season, but look at that as a fun opportunity to further enhance your yard.

Best of luck!