Is there something I can spray on the young vines the beginning of the season to prevent this. It always happens except for the Sweet Autumn kind.
There could be a number of causes for this, but at a guess, I'd say most likely clematis wilt. Nothing really applicable to prevent this occurring other than proper planting methods/cultural controls and hard pruning the first couple of seasons. The vines usually outgrow it.
Selecting types that are more resistant would help. Type 2 LFH's tend to be highly prone....most type 3's and species are quite resistant (why the SAC shows no signs).
Also could be leaf burn. New leaves start out fine, but gradually brown out beginning peripherally in really hot weather depending on your location and type of clematis species.
I find Type IIs often brown out from the bottom up. Our rain ceases here in July and despite watering they almost all do this around my yard especially the ones that compete with tree roots....
So what's the gardener to do when the Type 2s start turning brown from the ground up?
I don't grow type 2s, but I usually cut my type 3s back early to mid summer (and sometimes again late summer). In my long growing season they will regrow and flower again.
There is an old thread regarding clematis wilt and browning foliage from the bottom up (often called naked leg syndrome). People posting on that thread recommend pruning in summer to get rid of the ugly foliage and encourage new growth. I imagine that how late in the summer you can successfully do this would depend upon your growing zone. I really don't know if it would be advisable at all for people growing clematis in the far north. I have successfully cut mine back as late as September, as we usually don't get a freeze before mid December and sometimes not until around Christmas.
Here is a link that might be useful: old thread on clematis wilt vs.
Thanks for your reply, Kat. Now I feel more confident about pruning the Type 2s-- which is all I'm growing right now.
I will confess I have been pruning mine right after blooming and they rebound beautifully and bloom again within a month.
I recall mentioning mid-season pruning here on the forum back in 2005. My clems had bloomed and the vines were looking ratty and didn't look
like they were going to bloom again. I mentioned that I'd become frustrated and cut the vines back to about 20" high. I was amazed at how quickly they regrew and bloomed. A couple of people suggested I was going to kill my clematis....which led to me feeling paranoid about pruning except in the spring. Plus most gardening books mention pruning clematis in the spring, but say little about pruning after bloom.
After that, I was a bit nervous about trimming them.
I have a feeling that most gardening books are written by people living in Connecticut. They have no idea what it's like here in the deep south or how things grow down here.
All I know is that my large flowered hybrids seemed happy enough and after a haircut, the new foliage looked lush and beautiful and the plants sent up lots of new shoots after each pruning. I had them planted in the rose garden, so they got fed and watered generously on the same schedule as the roses.
Browning from the bottom is one of the reasons that some plant perennials or tall annuals in front of clematis.