Clematis and Zucchini - Knowledgebase Question

Raleigh, No
Avatar for Jpapegaay
Question by Jpapegaay
June 3, 2010
1. Clematis bloomed, but now leaves are turning brown - looks like it's dying. Help! 2. I have many zucchini blossoms, but no squash. Help!

Answer from NGA
June 3, 2010
It's really difficult to diagnose a plant problem without actually seeing it, but what you describe sounds like your clematis is suffering from the problem called clematis wilt. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease. On the other hand, it is not always fatal and many plants do recover. Remove the affected stems, cutting below the wilt. You may need to go as low as just below ground to remove all of the affected portions. Hopefully, it will regrow. To optimize its chances, keep the soil evenly moist like a wrung out sponge, not sopping wet and not dried out. Use several inches of organic mulch over the root area to help keep the soil evenly moist and cool.

Squashes have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. So, to produce fruit, pollen from male flowers must be transferred to the female flowers. The female blossoms have what looks like a tiny squash or cucumber behind the flower. The tiny fruit is the ovary, full of eggs not yet fertilized via pollen from male flowers. Male blossoms have long-stalked stamens, each with pollen-filled anthers. Visiting bees and other types of insects provide the transfer of pollen from the male to the female blossoms. Don't worry if the earliest blooms on squash plants fall off before they set any fruit. The male flowers of squash often bloom and wither before the female blossoms start appearing. So be patient with your squash plants. Eventually, most will produce both male and female flowers. Once blossoms of both sexes are opening at the same time, and if there is still no fruit formation, there may be poor pollination. Sometimes Mother Nature needs help. If you have a shortage of pollinators, you can transfer pollen from male to female blossoms with a small watercolor paintbrush. Research has shown that growing cilantro, yarrow, wild buckwheat, white sweet clover, tansy, sweet fennel, sweet alyssum, spearmint, Queen Anne's lace, hairy vetch, flowering buckwheat, crimson clover, cowpeas, common knotweed and caraway attract natural pollinators and other beneficial insects including natural predators to gardens.

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