wilting disease of newly planted Fothergilla (3 weeks ago)
All ten new Fotergilla (beautiful in the pot) have branches dying one by one. Some are now completely dead. The plants were carefully planted and have been watered well and are surrounded by healthy plants of other species. Of interest, one Fothergilla purchased at the same time is planted elsewhere and is not affected. My reading says that Fothergilla are resistant to the fungal wilting diseases but this seems like it might be the diagnosis. Any other ideas? Should we remove the plants and choose something else to plant in the fall?
In just three weeks time, it would be too early for a disease to be the cause of the problem. Most likely, the problem here is poor establishment. Were the plants rootbound in their nursery pots? If they were, did you fluff out the roots in the planting hole? Where they in a location that became saturated during the recent rains? The wilting symptom suggests the root system did not get established well and the plants are not taking up adequate water/nutrients. Too much water where roots are not well established can also lead to root rot. Pull up one of the plants and check the root system. Healthy roots would appear white and fleshy looking. If the roots don't look healthy, it is probably best to choose new plants.
Take a look at the information on our website for tips on planting and post-planting care of shrubs and trees: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/trees-and-shrubs/selection-purchasing-planting-and-care