bad soil for Maples

Asked July 10, 2019, 10:09 AM EDT

My city (Wixom) said that there are a lot of trees, 300 species in fact, that are affected by some kind of bad soil that is killing trees. My maple is one. Can you give me some info on this? The tree has not been healthy for a while now but it seems that about 2/3 of it is now either dead or dying. A few live branches but less and less every year. They are planning to replace the tree with something but with 300 species, I believe that their choices are going to be abridged. I am also worried about the other trees on my lot. How does it spread? Should I chuck my compost? Did I import this soil additive with my need for exotic fruit out of season's peels and pits? Thank you in advance for anything you could add.

Oakland County Michigan

3 Responses


One disease that can affect many species of trees and resides in the soil is verticillium wilt. It can be confirmed by sending plant samples to a lab.

I will give you this reference on V.W. Call your city and ask if this is their concern.

Here is a list of plants that may be useful, should you find you have to manage V.W.

And, as the first link above noted, you can send plant samples to a lab and have VM confirmed as present in your tree. MSU has this service for a fee, see the “Submit Samples” tab here-

It is unlikely that your soil was infected with VW by your composting of exotic fruits. And it certainly didn’t spread city-wide.

There are many beautiful trees that are resistant to verticillium wilt. If the city has another concern, we’d be happy to answer tour questions on it. Thank you.

Thank you. Very helpful. One last thing...the plantings under the tree, can I assume that the too are infected by the soil? Can I replant the lilies somewhere else in the yard with impunity or do I need to just trash them with the tree?. Is it possible to wash the roots and put them somewhere else in the yard?

If your tree is confirmed having VW, then the soil beneath will have the fungi too. If the plants below the tree are immune or resistant to VW, you can dig them, rinse the soil off, and plant them elsewhere.
My references say that garden lily ( Lilium species), and daylily ( Hemerocallis species) are resistant and so can be moved if soil is rinsed off.
Plants that are susceptible to VW will have the fungi inside the plant and should be discarded. ( see the link provided above for the lists of susceptible plants.