What’s wrong with my clematis?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Newbiegardener54, Jul 3, 2021.

  1. Newbiegardener54

    Newbiegardener54 New Member

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    I started noticing some spots on the leaves of our clematis a few weeks ago and lately it’s gotten much worse. I’m not sure what type of clematis it is since it was there when we moved in.

    Does anyone have any idea what is causing it and if there’s anyway to fix it?

    thanks very much
     

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  2. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I suspect your clematis has a serious viral disease called clematis wilt. Here is one article among many that talks about it and what to do to hopefully help the vine recover. Pay special attention to the advice to prune away all the diseased-looking leaves and stems and dispose of them in the garbage, not compost.

    What Plant Owners Need to Know About Clematis Wilt

    I would prune the entire vine to the ground at the end of summer whether the remaining stems look healthy or not plus any dead leaves that may be on the ground. Spores of the virus can overwinter and re-infect the new growth in the spring. I'd also mulch with compost, aged bark mulch or shredded leaves to help suppress viral spores. Read up on care of clematis so that you will be able to provide the amount of sun, root protection, fertilizing and watering that it needs.

    I don't want to stick my neck out but your clematis looks very much to me like a Clematis 'Jackmanii'.

    I hope I am wrong with this diagnosis so wait and see if anyone else has another suggestion.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2021
  3. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    I think regardless of possible diagnosis error - if any, Margot - I don’t see any harm in tidying it up to the garbage bin (not compost, as you wisely say) and it will Likely grow back - perhaps not flower the first year - but at this rate, in current condition - I think trimming is a good option.

    I have one question Margot - when you say « to the ground » ... trim but leave (how many inches) above the mulch surface?
     
  4. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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  5. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    To err on the side of caution, I would cut it back right to the ground because I believe the clematis will grow more vines from the root one way or the other. The likelihood of pathogens overwintering on the stubs of vines left above ground is probably remote but, for the sake of a few inches, why take the chance?

    My confidence is based on an experience many years ago when my Clematis 'Nelly Moser' was practically ripped out (long story) but came back beautifully the next spring.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Stippling and burning of older leaves only is consistent with a mite infestation - I suggest looking at the affected leaves with a magnifier.
     
  7. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Or, perhaps both clematis virus and spider mites?
     
  8. Newbiegardener54

    Newbiegardener54 New Member

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    Hi, sorry for the delayed response. Thanks to everyone for your thoughts.

    I don’t see any signs of spider mites (although I might be missing something). However when I went out yesterday evening I saw that it is now covered in aphids! When I looked this morning there wasn’t any sign of them though..
     
  9. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    I think go with what @Margot says and trim to ground sooner than later because you don’t want fungus, aphids, or whatever other concern this plant might have spreading

    Throw trimmings in garbage ASAP

    Clean up any fallen leaves and garbage bin them too

    After all that is done - then one wonders if the plant is stressed (weakened)

    Clematis - esp good old Nelly Moser (mentioned above) and Jackmanii (what some of us think yours might be) are garden workhorses

    So I wonder if yours is in the right place

    Feet in shade - & - Head in sun
    Think healthy forest shade for its feet - loamy and well-drained. Undisturbed.

    I know magazine and tv etc show huge showy wall of color clematis - I would be happy with a nice display of maybe 15 or 20 blossoms and a healthy, happy plant that doesn’t need too much fuss, not to mention chemical (natural or not) etc.

    I wonder what Margot thinks.

    I tend to be on the tough love side of plant husbandry :)
     
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  10. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    The possibility of this clematis being stressed, as mentioned by @Georgia Strait, also occurred to me. At the least, it may not be getting enough air circulation. If it were not in a good spot, transplanting could be a risky business; not something I've done myself but here are some good suggestions:
    https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/vines/clematis/transplanting-clematis-vines.htm

    If you do decide to relocate the plant, I'd still cut the old stems to the ground. It could very well send up new growth soon afterwards if you do it soon but, like Georgia Strait says, it would be a good way to get rid of fungus, aphids, etc. Mulching the ground after cleaning up all the debris could prevent potential lingering spores from re-infecting the plant.

    One other thing I never see mentioned on websites that I learned at a Master Gardeners lecture many years ago was to stake the clematis vines (mainly between the ground and where they start growing up a trellis) so that they don't whip around in the wind. The thought is that the vines could suffer damage that would make it easier for clematis virus to take hold.

    Good luck with it!
     

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