Clematis Stem Wilt: An Update to Something’s Wrong With The Clematis

Yesterday, I wrote about the terrible condition of two of my clematis plants (Something’s Wrong With The Clematis).

Clematis "Sugar Candy"

This morning, after an interesting discussion on Facebook, I called the Morton Arboretum Plant Hotline.  They are a great local resource for what’s going on with plants in the area.

They said it sounded like my clematis have clematis stem wilt.  Yikes! That’s not good, but not awful.

According to the Arboretum and the Missouri Botanical Garden clematis stem wilt is a fungal infection that comes on suddenly just as the plant is about to bloom.  Yep, exactly what I saw.

Clematis "Sugar Candy"

Within just a few days the stem and leaves turn black and start to die.  It may only affect a singe stem, or the whole plant.

Again, exactly what I’ve seen.  One has only some of the stems dying, the other all.

Clematis "Sugar Candy"

Pretty much the only way to treat it is to cut back and remove the infected stems and leaves.  Also, clean up any dead leaves underneath the plant so that the spores don’t stay in the soil and reinfect the plant.  Don’t forget to disinfect your pruning tools afterwards to keep them clean.  So that’s what I did today.

clematis wilt

clematis wilt

Here’s what they looked like when I was finished.

clematis wilt

clematis wilt

The one above has a mysterious new small plant growing right in the center.  I’m hoping it is the clematis already recovering and not a random weed.  We’ll see.

clematis wilt

Large flowered clematis seem to be more susceptible than small flowered, something to consider if this becomes a chronic problem. And as with most fungal infections, a cool and damp environment can contribute to the infections.  The good news is that the plants usually recover.

The odd part for me is how close the stunning clematis jackmanii variety is to the infected clematis.  It looks about the best I can ever remember.  Not much I can do about it except remove all the infected stems and leaves and say a little prayer.


As I was cleaning up I was looking at the clematis seed heads.  So interesting and pretty in its own right.

clematis wilt

Hopefully your clematis are finding this a good year and the stem wilt doesn’t show up in your yard.


2 responses to “Clematis Stem Wilt: An Update to Something’s Wrong With The Clematis

  1. Glad you found out what was happening. Your jackmanii looks great.

    And I think you may have solved my jackmanii problem–it seems to have that same wilt. Will take action. Thanks Stephi.

    • Sorry yours is not doing well either. I’m surprised at how widespread stem wilt is this year. Hopefully yours comes back beautifully next year.

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