My Clematis is wilting

redteddy(7a)May 11, 2012

Hello everyone,

I have a clematis candidas in its second year. Anyway three days before it was green and lush with beautiful buds ready to burst open, then we had two days of downpour, I mean a lot of rain. Well today the darn plant has wilted. Its leaves look sickly, the buds are still upright but it literally looks as if it wants to fall right off of its vines!

I had read that clematis can take a lot of water, but this doesn't seem true of this one. I cannot think of any reason why it would suddenly wilt save the heavy rain. Should I just let it dry out? Apply fertilizer? How can I help it recover?

Thank you

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Large flowered hybrids - like Candida - can wilt very easily. And it has nothing really to do with water or the lack of it. These types of clematis are very prone to a problem known as "clematis wilt". There is some debate as to whether or not it is a fungal disease or just the tendency of young plants to outgrow the ability of their root system to support them. A lot of clematis growers favor the latter theory :-)

Regardless, it is seldom ever a fatal problem and the plants will typically outgrow it. Just cut back below any signs of the wilted growth and tend as usual. You will very likely get some decent regrowth this season and you should get flowers next. Although do not dispair if it takes longer - sometimes wilted clems can take a couple of seasons to spring back to healthy life.

Planting the vine deeply and cutting back hard for the first few seasons are ways to avoid contracting wilt. These conditions and the fact that only LFH-type clematis contract it and that the vines outgrow it in time all support the notion that this is not a true fungal disease at all but just a problem with excessively rapid growth on newly planted or young vines.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 7:57PM
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Thanks Gardengal48. Should I cut back the vines too? Or just the green stems? Arghh! I really hate to do this! LoL. I mean all those buds just going to waste!

Ok. So all I need to know is if I need to rid it of the vines as well as the new growth.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 8:07PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Cut back the vines

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 11:20AM
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Ok, thanks. I'm going out to do that right now. It looks as if I will have to cut it back to the ground. When it begins to re-grow should I use fertilizer or wait til it gets larger? I use the foliar micro-nutrient spray "spray & grow".

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 1:58PM
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Wait until you see significant new growth before you start fertilizing. And that could very well be not until next spring!

I am not a big fan of foliar fertilizers - plants absorb nutrients predominately through their root systems so a fertilizer applied to the soil at the root zone is vastly more efficient. You could use the water soluble fertilizer of your choice but the recommendation of many growers is to use a rose or tomato fertilizer. I personally like a good compost with some additional alfalfa meal.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 1:05PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I also use compost and alfalfa pellets. I might toss some Rose Tone around if I have some...

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 1:09PM
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Thanks I have Rose Tone but I didn't know it was good fertilizer for Clematis and I will wait until it has substantial growth. This clematis is pruning group 2. Could it have possibly wilting because I hadn't pruned it back 10 inches in the spring?

How often does this wilting business occur? Is there anything I can do to prevent clematis wilt?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 1:44PM
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bob414(USDA 9, Sunset 15)

If it's caused by too much top growth for the root system to support as many growers believe you could keep the top growth pruned back more until the root system develops.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 3:45PM
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Is there anything I can do to prevent clematis wilt?

There are no guarantees unfortunately, but the two primary things to do to avoid wilt (which I mentioned previously) is to plant deeply and prune back hard the first couple-3 growing seasons. Or you can focus on the smaller flowered species clematis, any pruning group 1's or most of the type 3 pruning group - the very early flowering or the later flowering types. These tend to be very resistant to any clematis wilt.

Wilting can occur seasonally with any of the LFH's but they do tend to outgrow it after their 4th or 5th year in the ground.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 5:24PM
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