Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Clematis Wilt - Phoma clematidina

Clematis are some of the most beautiful flowering vines available to the avid gardener. However, several cultivars are prone to clematis wilt.

This newly transplanted clematis (moved this past spring) has shown signs of the wilt disease.

Rather a young plant, we waited for the flower buds to unfurl, but with the heavy rains we've had and humidity, the buds never got large enough to flower.

On closer inspection, the flowers were wilted and lost some colour.

The stem bearing the flowers at the base had the typical Clematis Wilt brown leaves.
Clematis wilt a few years ago was known as Ascochyta clematidina, but now it is classified under Phoma clematidina. A fungus which in wet weather, multiply by spores, creating blotchy lesions and eventually browning of leaves - making the plant wilt.

Even though the leaves at the tip of the stem are green, the base leaves are all like this.

The best route of action, is to cut back (as far back to the ground level) any stems and leaves that are infected. Do not compost the remnants. Destroy or remove. Re-situate the plant, if it is prone to dampness (frequent foliage contact with water).

Cut right back to ground level. No sense in letting any remaining leaves to infect other healthy ones.

This clematis was planted in a fair bit of clay soil. Adding compost and humus rich soil will help boost it back to health.

Clematis generally like to have "cold feet" which is a term used to describe cooler roots. Help clematis by shading the base of the plant. Planting the clematis slightly deeper than it is in the pot is wise. Make sure the roots are deep enough to keep cool. Planting a perennial or placing a rock over the root system is also beneficial.
While recovering, it's best not to let the remaining foliage get overly wet. You can't help the rain, but any additional waterings should avoid the foliage getting wet.

This is the stem in question. Discarding it, I have cut it in half. The wilt began at the base, slowly working its way to the tip. A sad shame, but thankfully, the wilt didn't spread to the other stems.

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