When I left home Monday morning I was not hopeful about my ‘Multi-Blue’ Clematis. Returning home on Friday, I expected the worst: a vine full of drooping buds and brown, wilted leaves. Instead, ‘Multi-Blue’ did not have a single drooping flower bud. There were a few wilted leaves, but the foliage was mostly clean.
So back in April Judy and I visited the garden at Dumbarton Oaks in the Georgetown section of DC. We were visiting our friends who live outside Baltimore and wanted to see this garden in part because it would be closed for almost a year starting in July.
Dumbarton Oaks as it exists today was created by Mildred and Robert Bliss. Robert was an American diplomat, but it was Mildred who took the lead in the garden. They bought the property in 1920, and over the next decade Mildred worked with the garden designer Beatrix Farrand.
The property was handed over to Harvard University in 1940. We entered through the South Lawn, which was unremarkable.
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.
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.
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?
Richard Hawke is the Plant Evaluation Manager for the Chicago Botanic Garden, so it’s fair to say he knows a lot about plants. Recently I was interested to see a post he wrote for CBG’s blog entitled “What Are the Best Plants for Your Midwestern Garden?”