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Beginner Needs Advice! Clematis Browning Leaves

OlivipeOlivipe Posts: 6
edited April 2020 in Problem solving
Hi Everyone
I am new to this forum and this is my first post...! I would appreciate any thoughts you may have on this subject as I am new to gardening and looking to learn as much as I can.
I have recently inherited a well established garden after a house move. The garden has been left untouched for around 6 years so we are slowly taming it and finding lots of beautiful plants. I have a large flowering (dark pink with light pink edges) clematis growing up a south facing wall. When we viewed the house the display was incredible so I imagine it has been happy in this position in previous years. 
We cut it back to around a foot high as it was a tangled mess come autumn time with dense dead vines at the back. This year I have seen massive growth and trained it up a trellis, spreading the shoots as I go. It has looked incredible and have been very excited to see it bloom. 
I put some horse manure around the base and also gave it some liquid plant feed (doff brand). Other than that I did not water at all as it’s mature and in the ground (I assumed I didn’t need to!?) however, it has been a very hot dry spell (east midlands) for around 2 weeks now. 
I noticed browning on the centre of the leaves approx 3 days ago, very pale to begin with, eventually spreading and turning the whole leaf brown and dry. I cut these off fearing clematis wilt. Now most leaves are showing signs of browning and I don’t know what to do or what it is. Is it clematis wilt, scorch or something else? Nitrogen?
The slight browning is affecting most leaves now and seems to be travelling up the plant but also affecting leaves hidden at the back in shade. 
I have now put a 2” layer of bark chipping around the base in an attempt to shade the roots and have watered it with two huge buckets of rain water. Any advice on what to do to help it recover as I would hate to lose it.
Thank you in advance!

the clematis last June 

Before any signs of browning
first browning leaves I removed (mainly around the base of the plant)


Clematis today


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,647
    I would try giving it a deep drink.  10 to 15 litres poured slowly so it absorbs.  Repeat in 3 or 4 days if you have no strong rain and do it at least once a week thru hot spells.

    It's planted close to a wall and in a teeny bed surrounded by black, heat absorbing tarmac which is a recipe for thirst.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,665
    Hello Sophie,  I don't think it's clematis wilt. Have you had any cold nights lately? Was the horse manure well rotted stuff and away from the main stem? You might have just overfed it and it can't cope with it or it maybe the hot weather when it's putting on all that new growth and not expecting it.
    I think you can only wait and see what happens. It's supposed to rain tomorrow so don't water it again for at least 4-5 days. Hope it survives. 
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • OlivipeOlivipe Posts: 6
    Thank you both for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate it!
    I don't believe we've had any cold nights. The horse manure could have been better rotted having read advice on using manure since. It was also on the main stem which probably didn't help.
    I am waiting for the rain to come today and keeping my fingers crossed.
    Currently I have bark chippings around the stem approx 2" deep. Is it OK for the bark chippings to be around the stem? When I pull them back the stem is damp from the moisture in the bark. Is this OK or should I leave a gap between them and the stem for air circulation?
    For the future, how would you be watering a clematis of this size through wet and dry periods?
    Thank you
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,647
    How and when to water has been answered above.  Don't wait for rain.  Give it a bucketful now.  That will dilute any excess ammonia in the horse poo.  Giving a long, deep drink also encourages the roots to go down deep to seek nutrients and water.  Just dribbling it on is counter productive as the roots stay near teh surface and then get fried in hot spells.

    Clematis are hungry plants but also very thirsty.  
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • OlivipeOlivipe Posts: 6
    Hi Obelixx I have already given two huge buckets of rain water in the last 5 days since the horse poo was added
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,647
    That sounds good.  I would keep doing that at least once a week but maybe more if you get a hot and/or dry spell.   Clematis are happy in alkaline conditions so tap water is fine even if yours is hard.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • BijdezeeBijdezee Posts: 1,484
    I think it's a bit of nitrogen burn. The watering you have done should help to flush out the excess nitrogen. 
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