Garden Clippings: Reader Questions

Answers to reader questions.

| September 2005

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A growing stack of letters from CAPPER'S readers has prompted me to refrain from discussing some of my own personal gardening issues this month. In-stead, I will answer some of the questions I've received from CAPPER'S faithful readers.

• Jo Dempsey, of Mankato, Kan., lost two clematis plants this year, when they suddenly wilted and died.

Clematis is considered a relatively trouble-free plant once it is well-established. Fungus and insect damage can cause the plant to look bad after it is well-rooted in the garden, but the plant will normally recover by adding new foliage to that which has been lost.

On clematis plants that are not fully established in the garden, there is a pest that can make a vigorously growing plant turn brown and die in a matter of days. The pest is called clematis wilt. It's a result of a fungus that causes the stem to rot and the foliage to become spotted.

There is not a preventive spray that can be used for clematis wilt. Spotted leaves should be picked off and disposed of when they are noticed. I would also recommend planting new clematis additions to the garden 2 to 3 inches deeper than what they are growing in the nursery container, or the crown of a bare root plant that much deeper as well. By placing the plant deeper than normal, it allows viable buds to be protected from the fungus by the soil.

If you have a clematis that rapidly wilts from this disease, don't give up immediately. I've seen plants resprout from the bottom and be just fine after a period of time.



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