clematis - Knowledgebase Question

Monroe, Ge
Avatar for Horsedaisy
Question by Horsedaisy
July 6, 2010
My plant is around my mailbox and produced beatiful purple flowers in the spring. Now the plant is not producing purple flowers just green bud but no flower and the leaves are getting black at the bottom of the plant. What is wrong?

Answer from NGA
July 6, 2010
Clematis are relatively easy to grow and care free. The one exception is clematis wilt. It is a frustrating problem because there doesn't seem to be any clear understanding or consensus among the experts about clematis wilt and what you can do to try to manage the problem. Even with the threat of wilt, clematis are well worth growing, offering incredible blooms on vigorous vines.

Wilt affects plants very suddenly, frequently going from a healthy, full plant to totally wilted and brown in just a few days. It typically hits the whole plant at one time, but sometimes it is limited to the foliage attached to a single stem or area. Clematis wilt most frequently shows up in early to mid-summer.

Even the exact cause is debated by the experts. The apparent cause is a fungus, but why one plant gets it and another doesn't is a mystery. What seems to be the most likely explanation has been offered by Jim Fisk, author of Clematis, Queen of the Climbers. He theorizes that clematis wilt isn't simply a fungal infection, but a failure of the stems to carry enough water to the foliage when the plants are in full leaf and the weather is stressful. The fungus might be after the fact, instead of the cause. This would help explain why clematis wilt is much worse some years than others.

Once you have determined the clematis has wilt and has sustained permanent damage, remove all the damaged leaves and stems including those that have fallen. Be extremely careful not to injure any delicate stems that are still viable, especially at the base of the plant. After cleaning it up, make sure it is thoroughly watered. Drench the soil and base of the plant with a systemic fungicide.

Hope this information is helpful.

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