The Heartbreak of Clematis Wilt

I was feeling pretty good about the Clematis ‘Multi-Blue’ I have growing on a tuteur in the Herb and Tomato Bed. By May 1, it had reached about 6′ and had a respectable number of swelling flower buds.

wilting clematis
A healthy bud (left), and a droopy sick bud (right). 

Then I noticed that some of those buds and leaves were alarmingly listless and droopy. After a little research, I came to the conclusion that the plant was suffering from Clematis Wilt. The good news is that I don’t have to dig the plant up and throw it away.

Instead, I removed the diseased parts of the plant. That was on Sunday. If the disease has spread to other parts of the plant by the time I return on Friday, I will cut the whole thing to the ground. I’m told that plants can recover from Clematis wilt within a year or two.

2014-07-04 16.20.17 Clematis jackmanii
Clematis wilt, stay away from my Clematis jackmanii.  I mean it!

However, I really don’t want this disease to spread to my other Clematis, especially the C. jackmanii that is just about 20′ away from the ‘Multi-Blue’.  Unfortunately, it’s the large-flowered Clematis like C. jackmanii and ‘Multi-Blue’ that are apparently most vulnerable to this disease.

Have you ever had to cope with Clematis wilt?

43 Comments on “The Heartbreak of Clematis Wilt”

  1. I had a new Clematis start exhibit signs of wilt once. I mercilessly cut it all the way back, added some more compost and waited. It came back and has been trouble free since. Not sure what causes it, but I hope your Multi blue will recover. It’s a beautiful Clematis…

  2. The other comments sound encouraging. I have lost a couple of Clematis completely to Clematis wilt over the years, but there may have been other factors involved too. Hope yours recovers quickly – that jackmanii was such a wonderful display last year!

  3. Your C. Jackmanii looks magnificent, I hope it doesn’t catch the disease, although it seems they can survive it. I have a clematis with very insignificant flowers that I keep just to cover a trellis, I wouldn’t mind if it got sick then I’d have an incentive to replace it. I feel very ungrateful and disloyal to an old, old friend writing this.

  4. I was told that you need to plant your clematis deep (deeper than the original planting depth in the pot it comes in) to help avoid wilt and keep the base covered – an old roof slate would do. Base in the shade/tops in the sun. Good luck with it and I hope it doesn’t affect your magnificent jackmanii.

  5. I’ve always heard that group III clematis don’t get wilt, only the group I and II. In my experience that has been the case so now I only grow group III varieties. I believe Jackmanii is a group III so that one may be OK.

  6. Yikes. Another problem to be on the lookout for. I am about to plant some clematis today, so now know, thanks to your readers, the importance of deep planting. Best of luck on this and hope that your prolific, gorgeous Jackmanii is immune.

  7. I have never had luck with clematis but have never experienced wilt. My current clematis has yellowing leaves for the second year in a row and is quite ugly. I would rip it out but it was a Mother’s Day gift.

  8. Hello Jason, most, if not all of the Clematis I’ve had had wilted in their first few seasons (I’m rather bad with Clematis). I’ve found that a combination of having them in the ground and having them grow and develop over a good few years means very few of my Clematis wilt these days and if they do, only a part of the plant is affected and they bounce back quickly as they have a large supporting root system.

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