Unhealthy looking clematis armandi

Discussion in 'Woody Plants' started by Unregistered, Jul 21, 2005.

  1. I purchased three armandi to begin to cover a large deck with overhead arbor. I live in NC where summers can get very hot. I lost two of the plants shortly after I planted them in the spring and the other is growing quite rapidly however, is very full at the top but looks awful at the bottom. The leaves are very sparce at the bottom of the plant and the leaves also are browning in areas. Either the whole leaf is brown or just the tip. What would this be from? Are Armandi's high maintenance? I am wondering if I need to pull upthe one I have and find something else or continue to let it go and add other to it?

    I am trying to cover this area much faster than what this clematis will do for me and I am looking everywhere to try to find additional plants. Armandi is hard to find. Can you tell me where to go to order approximately three more vines?
     
  2. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    Unregistered--I propagate quite a few armandiis here, and do find them temporamental both in the nursery (a bit) and in the ground. Plants I have purchased from a large grower here in BC have always died within a year for me in the ground. My plants do seem more dependable (brag, brag) but are still not the most guaranteed item to take off like ivy or whatever.

    My observation is that the 1 gal. plants normally sold are grown with fertigation that makes a beautiful deep green plant, but with very little root system...the 1 gal. in retail here are often just rooted cuttings less than a year old but trained up a small stake to look impressive. Planted in the ground these little things must think they have been sentenced to torture, coming from a perfect greenhouse environment then needing to fend for themselves and find food in real soil somehow. Not all that surprising that many of them just up and die quite quickly.

    One possible solution based on what works here, is to buy a few 1 gal. (cheaper) and pot them into 3 gal. containers with some compost and other organic ferts like kelp meal, rock dust and a bit of calcium lime. Growing them for a year like this, they never seem to decline for me, and should establish better once planted in the ground. Note, clematis roots have to stay cool, so hide the containers in amongst other plants during the hot part of the year anyway to try to keep roots below 85F...even sink the pots in the ground, same idea. Also have to keep roots from freezing much over winter, so plunging into the ground makes even more sense until it's time to actually plant.

    I also like to innoculate clematis in containers with mycorrhizae, this may be available for gardeners where you are...this helps to get roots ready for the real world of soil in gardens.

    Hopefully you can make the armandii work, as flowering evergreen vines are quite rare. You are probably aware, tho that you are getting into the marginal climate for them, as are we in parts of S.W. British Columbia. They will get damaged in wicked arctic blasts here, which you must occasionally get in NC.

    Good luck, hope most of my advice is correct as I'm fairly new in the plant growing biz!

    Glen
     
  3. Diane W.

    Diane W. Active Member

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    Unregistered. Clematis need care. Lots of water and need to be fertilized. You should always put some bone meal in the planting hole and dig in some (high middle number) fertilizer to the soil around the plant after planting. Also mulch heavily.
    Armandii tend to grow rapidly upwards leaving their lower portion bare. Try cutting back a few stems to near the ground to encourage lower growth.
    If you want an easier growing clematis, you could try Summer Snow (Paul Farges). This grows to about 25'. It has lovely clusters of white starlike flowers in late summer that glow in the dark. It is of the "verticella" group of clematis which means it has to be cut back to the ground each Spring, but it grows right back and is very vigorous. Also "viticellas" never get the dreaded clematis wilt. Another vigorous viticella clematis is the Tangutica which has bell-like yellow flowers. It can grow rapidly to over 30' and has been known to bring down its support, so should not grow on a flimsey trellis. Great for covering an ugly wall or shed, though.
    To find out more about any clematis, check out the International Clematis Society website or "Clematis on the Web".
    If your main concern is a rapidly growing vine and you don't necessarily want a clematis, you could try Silver Lace Viine, known as the mile-a-minute plant although some people look on this as a weed.
    Hope this helps, although most plants need time to grow. There's no such thing as an instant garden. Patience brings its own reward!
    Diane.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Fertilize according to indications of soil analysis report, gotten by sampling soil and sending it to soils lab. Clematis tangutica isn't a Viticella clematis.
     
  5. GRSJr

    GRSJr Active Member 10 Years

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    Clematis armandi grows well here in Raleigh, NC in spite of the hot summers.

    I started with 3 plants but hurricane Fran wiped out the deck (15 ft off the ground) poles they were growing on. Two had to be demolished in the reconstruction, but the third has grown and bloomed every year. I found them nearly indestructable and had to work to eliminate them.

    It will climb the 15 ft post in less than a season and has to be restrained from growing along the deck railings.

    It is true that the lower section of the plant tends to loose it's leaves and look a bit ragged. We deal with that problem by training the growing ends to grow downward and cover the bottom section of the plant.

    Otherwise, the plant is healthy and just needs to be sprayed in spring to get rid of bugs. Most of the time this isn't even necessary.

    You might try propagating from your own plant. Most vines do well from stem cuttings, or you could even do air-layers to get larger plants.
     
  6. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    GSR--that's great to hear the armandii's do well there. I wasn't sure if unregistered was fighting a losing battle trying to use them in NC. Your climate actually is more like their native China than ours...being more hot and humid summers. Neither of us has as mild winters as they are adapted to, but it's rare to totally lose one here, just some topgrowth gets fried by arctic cold, dry winds.

    Your experience reinforces what I observe up here. Many new plantings sulk and eventually croak. Those that establish take off and overrun the yard, fence, neighbour's yard, so on! Wish I knew how to insure all would turn out good once planted out...

    Just a note about propagating. Clematis in general are pretty fragile, but easy from cuttings. Armandii however is notoriously difficult, resulting in significantly higher prices and shortages of supply. I grow them for fun, but won't quit my day job :-)

    Glen
     
  7. GRSJr

    GRSJr Active Member 10 Years

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    Glen,

    Never had any winter kill here.

    Have you tried air-layers? Sometimes they work better on difficult plants.
     
  8. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    Re: air layering

    GSR--a big grower here actually tried the layering, very unusual for commercial growers. They abandoned that, never heard the details. Layering is pretty complex for doing the hundreds of plants needed for wholesale...but I'm quite sure it would provide a few plants to a homeowner. Just never tried it myself.

    I have no great secrets to propagating, just stick lots of cuttings and expect a good % of those to fail! Still worth my while for something pricey...
     
  9. GRSJr

    GRSJr Active Member 10 Years

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    Yes, layering is probably not for growers. Likewise, sticking hundreds of cuttings is probably not for the gardener.

    Since C. armandii is a vine, conventional layering, bend a wounded stem under ground, should be a lot less labor intensive than air-layering, for a few plants of course.

    It might even work on a large number of stuck cuttings as they grow, giving you 2 for 1 so to speak. Interesting thought anyway.
     
  10. GRSJr

    GRSJr Active Member 10 Years

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    An update on C. armandii: My wife tired of the unsightly lower portion of the plant, so she cut it back to within 2 feet of the ground in July. It's now back to 15 feet in height and beautifully leafed out all the way to the bottom.

    Not sure I'd recommend this treatment in July, especially here in the hot NC piedmont. but it's a testiment to the vigor of C. armandii.
     
  11. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Blooms off old wood, so you may not see much flowering next time.
     
  12. GRSJr

    GRSJr Active Member 10 Years

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    By next season, the wood will be old and there should be lots of bloom. Not to worry.
     
  13. C armandi is tough as nail. I have several planted in my property. The most impressive one is now 30 feet up the cedar tree in our backyard. Of the 4 that we planted, the 2 that has done the best are in partial shade - one receiving only morning sound. The one that is in direct midday and afternoon sun isn't as vigorous and the leaves are paler and there seem to be more yellowing and browning off. This suggest to me that it does not like direct exposure to sun in the hottest part of the day.

    The success rate in my attempts at rotting cuttings is only 10-20%. Apparently, the commercial rooters have the same difficulty - hence the higher price compared to other clematis varieties. The problem is not only with getting the cuttings to strike roots, but getting them to grow on from there. I find more success with the double node rooting technique. Stem cuttings have also been suggested, but I have never tried this, as it would mean having to sacrifice a larger portion of the parent plant. It might be a worthwhile method to use if you are doing some hard pruning anyway. The Royal Horticultural Society has a nice article on clematis propagation from cuttings.
     
  14. GRSJr

    GRSJr Active Member 10 Years

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    Our C. armandii grows in full mid-day sun. It's healthy and blooms profusely. The only problem we have is the fact that, in time, the lower leaves drop leaving unsightly bare stems.

    Perhaps this is the result of the sun and high summer temperatures, I don't have a way to compare it to one grown in partial shade.

    As I posted earlier, cutting it back almost to the ground cures the problem.
     

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