what is wrong with my clematis?(14 Posts)
I planted this clematis (General Sikorski from Morrisons) in April. It has been growing taller and there are some side shoots but these haven't been developing so the plant hasn't really spread widthways at all. Is this just because it is still young? Will this change next spring?
More worryingly, what is wrong with the leaves? I have been reading up on clematis wilt but my plant doesn't quite fit the description. The leaves are deteriorating from the bottom up and there is no wilting.
The last photo shows the 4th flower this plant has had (all have been in bloom at separate times) and there are three more healthy looking buds.
Have I just planted the clematis in a sub-optimal position? It's in clay soil - perhaps not well draining enough? It is east facing and gets sun in the morning. It is 2m from a mature cherry tree and so the sun can be dappled.
It is a foot from the fence already. (May not look like that in the photo.)
So would you cut it back now already rather than waiting till the normal pruning season?
The advice is: 'In the first year after planting, prune back hard to approximately one foot above ground level, leaving two or three healthy buds.' Should I do that now already?
And re-plant after I have cut it back?
OK, so it's a pruning group 3 clematis, so you cut back the whole thing to about 1ft off the ground in spring. Look for a pair of buds and snip just above them. It flowers on this year's growth, and will bush up this way, giving you more lateral growth next year. Sometimes the plants from supermarkets can be a bit weedy in the first year and may take a while to get going (nothing wrong with that, you just have to be a bit patient)
Make sure it has plenty of compost dug in around the roots, and that they are kept in the shade (planting some low ground cover around it can help). They like a moisture-retentive soil and have a deep root run, so if yours is very free draining, adding organic matter can really help!
However, I think the problem you have with those black leaves is scorch from the hot sun we've been having and drought. However, I'm afraid to say that there is another possibility, which is that it could be clematis wilt, which is a fungal disease. I am not experienced enough really to know, but I suspect it's drought/scorch because you're not seeing the whole stem droop right to the top. However, if it gets worse and you do see the dreaded droop, I would follow poltergoose's advice and cut it out straight away. It should be replanted more deeply with more organic matter in whatever case. As I said above, this is a clematis that will be cut back anyway, so don't feel terrible if you do have to chop it back a bit.
I happen to have some Alchemilla mollis spare. Would that do OK as ground cover in front of the clematis or would it get too high?
it might work - certainly it would be OK once it was established. (The danger is always that you plant something that out-competes the clematis, and this is definitely to be avoided!) For now, I was thinking of something slightly lower just to keep the moisture in the soil. I have some of this under a clematis in quite shaded conditions and it seems to like it:
I've got quite a collection of clematis and they can be a bit fussy, mildly diseased and just not put in the effort (like yours). Any poor behaviour results in them being dug up or taken out of their pot, cut back hard, roots cut back a bit too, then replanted deep in a really good quality hole - as per the good advice above. They are hungry and thirsty plants so appreciate a decent bit of feed and to be moist-but-well-drained.
Clematis are natural woodlanders - they like to have a cool root run and to scramble upwards rather than bush outwards. To make them multi stemmed you may need to pinch out new growth to a pair of buds (then both buds will grow a stem).
Thanks for telling me about your experiences, Purple!
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