|my Clematis starts out well and grows fast, but starts dieing off when it starts to flower what can I do to prevent this|
|It sounds suspiciously like clematis wilt. 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. The exact cause of clematis will is still being 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.
As a precaution, a systemic fungicide should be applied in early spring before the new leaves emerge, monthly throughout the growing season and again in the fall after you have cleaned up the fallen leaves. Make sure it stays well-watered, especially during the hot, stressful parts of the season.