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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
I Keep Killing Clematis
Posted: Aug-17-2004 at 10:07am
I think I've just "done in" my second one. The first I killed earlier this year--twice! It was a Clematis armandi bought it at the flower and garden show. It planted it deep on the North side of a fence post and mulched with rocks so it's roots would be shaded. It turned brown and disappeared. Sometime in April it came back looking good. I watered it regulary--not too much I don't think. After about a month it turned brown and disappered again.
Now a Clematis "The President" planted in the shade of a Camillia next to a rock wall was growing just fine, climbing the rock wall. I watered it probably twice a week. It's now turning brown. My soil is clay, amended with aged compost the planting holes were amended with Steve Solomon's recipie of organic fert.
What am I doing wrong? I have two more Clematis in pots that are sulking (which I understand they do the first year anyway) but I'm afraid to plant for fear the'll die too!
Posted: Aug-17-2004 at 10:37am
That's too bad, Theresa! You might try putting a plant or large rock, chair whatever in front of it to shade it's roots. Something that will always shade the bottom half of the plant and keep the soil cool. The clematis has full sun for the top half, right? They like that combo.
You might need to give it more water. Maybe three, four times a week if you've had it for less than a year.
What about Clematis wilt? "The only serious disease of clematis is highly infective fungal infestation called Clematis wilt. Suddenly either the entire plant, one of the shoots, or just part of a shoot collapses completely, although roots usually remain healthy. This tends to affect weak, damaged or improperly cultivated plants".
This may have been what got your armandi. Try cutting it all the way back but keep watering it.
What else? Anybody out there?
Posted: Aug-17-2004 at 11:25am
Bummer on losing your clemmies, Theresa. One thing that stood out is you are backfilling your holes in clay soil with amended soil. What would be better is to back fill with the native soil and then top the whole thing with amendments. On top of the soil not in it. You may be creating problems, although I doubt this killed your clemmies.
I would dig up the plant and see if you can see if anything is going on with the roots.
So many things can go wrong with clemmies when they are first planted. They may have too small of a root ball to compete with other roots. The wilt is a real possibility. Also this hot, dry weather has not been great for establishing clemmies.
What I would recommend for you is to plant some this fall when the rains return (late September?). And then let me give you one to try, I just happen to have an extra that you may like. (Keep an eye out for my plant list for the upcoming exchange,)
Posted: Aug-17-2004 at 12:38pm
In both cases the roots were well shaded but they weren't tall enough to have their heads in the sun yet (12"). I didn't just ammend the hole the beds are ammended, just added the fert to the hole.
I'd be happy to try another one in fall.
I do have one success story, a Nelly Moser who is happy and blooming for a second time this year. She is two years old and finally starting to spread her arms a bit!
Would it help to get bigger plants to begin with?
Posted: Aug-17-2004 at 3:44pm
On a gardening show last week I saw another thing I didnt do when I planted my new clematis. The owner of Joy Creek Nursery says to plant the clematis in a hole deep enough so that the soil is 2 inches above the soil line of the pot, and also cut the top growth off by 50 %and dont expect too much of it the first year, because you want it to work on root growth.
I planted an armandi on the north side of a 4 foot retaining wall, and It looked mostly dead all last year, which means it died back by at least 50% (self pruning?!) but came back this spring, still not as hardy as I would wish, but it isn't dead either.
I think poking around the roots now in mid August would probably insure that it dies. Go work on the compost pile, instead!
Posted: Aug-17-2004 at 3:51pm
How about using a compost or bark mulch until you get one going for a year or more.
Next time, maybe plant in fall - end of October. Water and check root ball through cold season.
I find that those can do a bit better if protected from east winter wind, which is a bit more challenging on a north exposure.
Can you locate it on a southern or western location, and shade the roots with other plants, as suggested above?
Apparently, there is no problem if the foliage gets sunshine. But I'd avoid sunshine plus reflected heat off a light colored surface - or from the new energy efficient windows which are heat reflective. I've seen those windows burn rectangles - as far away as 25 feet at one lawn of a Murrayhill area home in Beaverton.
Posted: Aug-18-2004 at 7:49am
Congrats on your Nelly Moser, Theresa. You must be doing it right, then! Maybe you got lemons with the others?
Good point on reflected light and heat, MD.
Posted: Aug-18-2004 at 2:31pm
I'm wondering if the rocks you were using acted to hold the heat and kept the roots too warm. It's a trick we use around here to grow heat-loving plants, to mulch with rocks or gravel. They also might still come back. (Hope springs eternal. As far as I'm concerned, horticulture is more than science - there's a bit of magic in there, too. Hey, now I'm sounding like something out of the middle ages! Well, I am middle-aged...)
"A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do." - P. J. O'Rourke.
Posted: Aug-18-2004 at 2:56pm Hey, I believe in magic! And I haven't totally given up. They'll be undesturbed from now until spring, then we'll see...
Posted: Aug-18-2004 at 6:59pm
Well, I think my Armandii has bit the biscuit as well. A combination of what I suspect is: 1) inadequately shaded roots; 2) too much shade on the crown; 3) possible clematis wilt (showed all the symptoms); 4) lack of water in the drought.
After we remove the holly and the silk tree, which were shading it a bit too much, I'll try again, maybe in a different location.
The "Gypsy Queen" didn't bloom this year, so I'm hoping for next year.