I planted a clematis 4 years ago and I still don’t have blooms. Every year it appears to be growing (this year the most by far!) but them it gets brown and burnt looking … so I’m trying to figure out what’s cooking my clematis? Could it be dog urine? cat urine? deer urine? And if so, how do I fix it and/or what can I put on it for it to grow and thrive?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Jennifer: From the symptoms you’ve described it sounds like a fungal issue. Some clematis are more susceptible than others but the larger flowering species are particularly prone to clematis wilt (Ascochyta clematidina). The fungus starts at the base of the plant and works its way up. The vine first appears drought-stressed and then brown and crispy. The fungus can overwinter in the soil which is likely why your vine has never bloomed. You will want to remove all infected stems below the soil line and dispose of them. Clean your pruners between each cut to prevent further spread. You can also apply a fungicide. The vine can recover and produce new growth but maintaining a debris-free area around the vine will be an important part of eliminating the fungus. This should be done all year long. Good air circulation is just as important in growing a healthy vine. Although they like their roots shaded, clematis require full sun; a minimum of six hours each day is ideal. These vines prefer well-drained soil that is rich in nutrients. All plants perform best when given ideal growing conditions. If your vine is not getting what it needs ,you may consider moving it as part of a treatment plan.