Clematis is burning up


Old 08-26-02, 06:48 PM
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Unhappy Clematis is burning up

I planted Clematis "The President" this spring next to my front step. It faces southwest, so it gets quite a bit of sun. I know an eastern exposure would have been better, but it isn't possible. It was doing fine until we had some particularly hot weather in July. Most of it burned up, but the top kept growing. I assumed it got to hot because the surrounding area (cement step and basement wall) is painted a burgundy color and acted like an oven. I put some white Plasticore (like plastic cardboard) behind it hoping that this would help, and it did - until now. It was sending out new growth from the top, and even getting ready to flower (until the grasshoppers ate some of the buds, but that's another story!). Now it is doing the same thing again, but only on one of the two shoots. Has anyone ever had anything like this happen, know how to prevent it, or know if it will survive? I have seen them on unsheltered southern exposures, so I know it must be possible to get them to grow. Any advice is appreciated.

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Old 08-26-02, 09:14 PM
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Hi Shane,

One of our clematis is doing the same thing. I wish I could post a pic. It looks like it's dead except for a few green leaves, but it's growing in a 1/2 whiskey barrel on the east side of the house. When I watered tonight, I squished 3 grasshoppers. Yep, they're a great joy, aren't they?

From what you describe, it sounds likes it's not in a very good spot. Clematis like their roots cool and their leaves in the sun. You're getting heat bouncing off from the cement and also from that white Plasticore. Are the roots mulched, or do you have something growing in front of it to shade the roots? If not, make sure you mulch it well and keep it watered. July and August has been really dry in most states--at least from what I see on the weather.

I wish I could tell you that your clematis would survive because I'm certainly wondering about ours. Hopefully, someone else can give you more reassurance. Let's cross our fingers and toes!

Make sure you're watering deep enough. If you have clay soil, the water can run off, even though you think you've given it a good drink. Dig down a little and see if the soil is damp. If it isn't, work the soil up around the roots, being careful, and water it well and keep checking it for the rest of the season.

Let us know if it makes it.

Old 08-26-02, 09:21 PM
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Smile Clematis culture

Hi Shane,

You are right about the heat. However it is the roots that must be kept cool all season.

One thing you can try is to cover the area around the stem with a circle of ground cloth & use small 3/8" to 1/2" inch white limestone gravel. Use at least 3 layers of ground cloth to prevent weeds from breaking through.

A soaker hose ring can be used to water the vine well and deep. The don't like the soil to get too dry, now with the mulch it won't loose as much mosture.

You are on the right track with the white Plasticore, it's just a whole lot more important, to keep the roots moist & cool. This is an all year mulch, using the Limestone gravel will reflect the heat.

Find out the type of clematis you have. I mean if it flowers on old wood or new wood. On the new wood bloomer you can cut it down to a foot from the ground in Winter. On the old wood bloomer you must be careful just to shape & remove the dead wood only. Yes you can cut away the dead head ball that many Clematis leave up top at seasons end.

I don't think it's gone, just get those roots cool and keep it moist. It will probably come up better than ever next Spring.

Good luck to you, let us know how it does

Old 08-26-02, 11:15 PM
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Thanks for replying!

I knew that they liked to have their heads in the sun and their roots in the shade - that was one of the reasons I planted it there - I just didn't bargain on getting so much sun this year!!

There are irises growing in front that were shading the roots, but now they have all flopped over, so they don't do much. As such, I put an old cedar shingle to shade the roots. After I saw them die back, I put a few more down.

I never thought of putting white limestone down - that's a great idea! Thanks marturo.

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one with this problem. Thanks Gami. I hope both of ours survive.

As for the grasshoppers, there is a cement driveway b/n my house and my neighbors - once I walked outside and the whole driveway jumped!! They love sitting there where the sun warms everything up. I usually find a shoe for each hand and go hopper squishing (It's very therapeutic ). They love eating the flowers off my white petunias - and of course they are the best flowers in the bed.

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