Tag Archives: clematis sugar candy

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.


Something’s Wrong With The Clematis

Usually, my clematis are one of the stalwarts of my garden.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

They grow beautifully with very little attention.  But this year, after being gone to Yosemite for a few days, I came home to both my Clematis “Sugar Candy” looking like this:

Clematis "Sugar Candy"

Clematis "Sugar Candy"

It was really puzzling. My two ideas as to what was happening where that somehow some stems were cut down low by an animal or accidentally during weeding, or round-up was used in the area without me knowing.  Although, that seems less likely since only the clematis seem to be affected and it seems to be stem specific.

I looked carefully at the base to see if there was anything obvious that I could see.  There didn’t seem to be anything I could see.

Clematis "Sugar Candy"

After another week or so, things weren’t looking any better.  One of the plants does seem to still have a thriving stem and continues to bloom.

Clematis "Sugar Candy"

The other barely has any green remaining so my hope for that one surviving are not very high.

Clematis "Sugar Candy"

But there are two lonely green leaves, so maybe???

Clematis "Sugar Candy"

So what to do?  Before fall, I’m going to carefully prume out all the dead stems.  Once the clematis goes dormant it would be impossible to tell live from dead.  Then basically wait and see how it does next year.  I probably won’t prune them as I have in the past (Checking in on the Clematis) to let them recover.

On the flip side, The Clematis “Jackmanii” is doing spectacularly well this year and is overgrowing everything in its path.  Not sure why, but I’m not complaining.

Clematis jackmanii

Clematis jackmanii

How’s your clematis doing?

(I do wish I could have taken better pictures, but it’s been so cloudy and gray.  Dead plants and gray skies don’t make for a cheerful image 🙂 )

It’s Been A Rainy Month

Our weird weather continues.  Seems like it’s either too hot, too cold, too rainy or too dry and we keep getting into the top 10 for something.  In that vein, this June we are having the 5th wettest June ever and we still have a few days to go. At my house we’ve had 6 inches of rain so far, with some in the rain gauge to be read tomorrow morning.


(Have I said how much I love my Rain Log app for my iPhone and my rain gauge?)

So how is the yard faring?  The swale between the yards is working as it should to let water run down the block. This is also the “no-man’s land” of the yard. It serves it’s purpose of shedding water and is well hidden by a row of blue spruce (raised up to keep their water-unfriendly roots dry). I’m amazed my fence is still standing after all these years of rain.


It’s also days like this that I’m glad I have my tall slogger rain boots to check everything out in.

rain boots

We have channels of water that run around the beds.  They seem to drain as they should and keep the water from puddling on the plants and trees.



We’ve had a new problem the last few years with the neighbor’s water washing right over our side beds instead of towards the back.  This was causing some terrible erosion, so we added some timbers last summer to redirect the water to the back swale where it should be.   Seems to be working perfectly!


We also had trouble with our shed which is situated in the low spot of the yard. We had it raised up and now it’s as dry as can be and the door will stop rotting away.  I’ll write about that soon.  It was quite a job, but a necessary one.  Looks like we need to do some repair work to pretty it up a bit.


Then there was the pile of clematis flower that got knocked off.  The early blooming clematis “Sugar Candy” was in full bloom, but this is what it looked like after a particularly bad rain storm.


I was just in Yosemite National Park in California and the difference between our lush, if not water saturated, greenery and their parched, drought stricken landscape was dramatic.  I would gladly share!

The Garden Was Party Perfect

My goal this spring was was to get the garden in shape for my twin boys high school graduation festivities. While the weather barely cooperated, the gardens were helped by the cool spring and looked beautiful, green and lush.  Some of the spring shrubs were still blooming and overlapping with some of the early summer blooming vines and perennials.  What didn’t have color, I filled in with annuals from a local nursery.  Even the vegetable gardens seemed on their best behavior.  I think I am going to be spending a lot of time relaxing in the backyard this summer enjoying all this early spring work.















On personal note– this has been such a hectic year and I haven’t been blogging as much as I had hoped.  Now that my twins have finished their senior year and all that comes with it, I hope to be writing on a more regular basis.  Wondering where they’re going?  Here’s a hint…

IMG_0570 - Version 2


Checking in on the Clematis

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

One of my favorite plants in my garden are my clematis. I love how they climb and burst forth in mountains of delightful color.  Every year I worry about if they’ll make it through the winter, but so far so good. One of them I’ve had since we moved into the house almost 20 years ago. It’s moved a couple of times, but it’s no worse for the wear.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

I also worry a lot about pruning as well.  I just feel like I’m going to do it wrong and somehow kill it, or permanently wreck it.  So more often than not, I do nothing for a while and then timidly prune some off.  Instead, pruning clematis is necessary to keep it healthy and blooming profusely.

When and how to prune depends on what type it is.  It is also important to prune a young clematis the first 2 years to encourage strong roots to support a strong plant.  While tempting (and commonly done here), clematis should also not be pruned in the fall in colder climates since any warm weather will stimulate growth too early.

There’s lots of great websites describing how to prune a clematis, but simply put:

  • Type A or 1 blooms in early spring and should be pruned lightly to remove dead wood and neaten up the plant after blooming.  Flower buds are set the previous year on old wood.
  • Type B or 2 blooms in late spring or early summer and then sporadically after.  These can be pruned by thinning in very early spring and then again after the bloom.  Or, if really unruly, they can be cut back more severely to about a foot before any new growth begins.
  • Type C  or 3 tends to bloom in early to late summer.  These are the easiest to prune.  Before new growth begins cut the entire plant back to about a foot.

I think I can handle this. A little more care and my clematis will look even more spectacular!

This Clematis “Jackmanii” has been moved a few times and was the slowest to bud this year.  I was worried it was dead, but happily buds began to emerge a couple of weeks ago.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"








Clematis “Jackmanii” is a Type 3 clematis for pruning.  Last week, once the new growth was established and I new it was alive, I took the opportunity to prune back the tangled mess of dead wood above the new growth.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

This one is my 20 year old Clematis “Jackmanii”.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"


It’s been hard pruned periodically (in the fall, whoops) , and keeps coming back bushier and fuller each year.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

One of my recent clematis plantings is a clematis “Sugar Candy”.

Clematis "Sugar Candy"

This a type 2 clematis and hasn’t been pruned at all since it was planted.

Clematis "Sugar Candy"


It could probably use some freshening up, so I will give it a bit of a “haircut” this year after it has bloomed, and then again in the early spring next year.

My newest one is unknown.  Somehow in less than 6 months, I have lost the name tag.  It is a clearance plant I got last fall, so I’m glad it came back this spring.  It’s going to be a nice surprise when it blooms and I can try to identify it.  I’l have a better idea as to how to prune it when I figure out what it is.



Do you have any clematis in your yard?  Are you comfortable pruning it?