The Q&A Archives: Dying Evergreen Clematis

Question: About 18 months ago in the fall (2001) I purchased four large (5 gallon?) Monrovia Clematis Armandii plants. As soon as I got the first whiff of fragrance from those blossoms the next spring this plant rapidly became my favorite. One of my vines did fine for the first year and then died last fall, even before winter set it. The other three appeared to be thriving -- getting larger and blooming beautifully. Last week I discovered to my dismay that one more of these beautiful vines is dying. It is in a perfect spot -- morning and early afternoon sun (nobody in Tacoma, Wa gets full sun!) It has not dried out nor been left standing in water. It has beautiful blossoms but every leaf is turning brown. What on earth can be causing this? Can I save my plant?

Please advise.

Peace on Earth. Let it begin with me.
Dianne M. Brogden

Answer: If your clematis didn't experience a late frost, I can only guess that the older foliage is being dropped to make room for new leaves. (Wish I could be more helpful, but without seeing the plant, it's difficult to make a diagnosis!) Since you're sure it's planted in the right spot and the soil drains well, that only leaves some environmental problem such as frosty weather, or it's a natural leaf drop. For a positive diagnosis, why not take a sample of the problem to your local Cooperative Extension office or the WSU plant clinic in Puyallup? Helpful experts there can help you solve your problem. Phone 253-798-7180 (Tacoma) or 253-445-4500 (Puyallup). Best of luck with your clematis!

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