Is my clematis dying?

by Ann Denton
(Deal, SE England)

Hi Jacki. I know your speciality is succulents, but I would appreciate your horticultural advice. I live in South East UK and in my garden I've planted two clematis on one trellis - Clematis 'Volcano' (summer flowering) and Clematis urophylla (which is flowering now - January). Despite being classified as evergreen, the urophylla has loads of dead leaves alongside the flowers. I've double-checked and they are definitely on the same branches, despite being in the middle of an extremely warm winter (temp today 14C).

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Jan 01, 2022
To be honest...
by: Jacki Cammidge, Certified Horticulturist

Clematis are one of my favorite plants! They do have their quirks though, and pH of the soil is one of them. Quite by accident I found that mulching them with broken hypertufa (which is mostly concrete) provides them with the exact conditions they prefer.

Your issue possibly could be the dreaded Clematis slime flux. Luckily, it is treatable, and in addition, is one of the few pathogens that attacks Clematis. It will involve some investigating on your part, to see if you can spot the tell tale signs of it.

Another issue that can occur is an infestation of phytopthera root rot. Because only some of the foliage is showing the die back, this can be put on the back burner for now.

Other than that, it's a case of wait until spring, and see what happens then. Don't over water it, in fact, most Clematis are quite drought tolerant, so don't require additional water than what nature provides.

Jan 01, 2022
Thank you ....
by: Ann

for giving me hope that I might not lose this pretty plant. Unfortunately, this plant is growing outdoors and we're having the wettest winter in the last six years so I'm unable to control the watering. However, I'll wait until spring as you suggest.

Jan 01, 2022
Could you...
by: Jacki

Could you put a piece of plastic around the base to guide the moisture away?

Jan 04, 2022
We've tried a couple of things
by: Ann

My husband has pushed a fork deep into the ground near the roots and filled the holes with sand. Another recommendation was to use diluted hydrogen peroxide at the roots and, as I already had this in the shed, we've also tried that. However, I'm all for the 'belt and braces' method so I'll also try the plastic you mentioned. Thank you.

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