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Clematis Montana almost dead

Printed From: British Clematis Society Forum
Category: Clematis
Forum Name: Postings
Forum Discription: General chat and help about anything Clematis
Printed Date: 11 Jul 2020 at 11:56pm
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Topic: Clematis Montana almost dead
Posted By: Janet
Subject: Clematis Montana almost dead
Date Posted: 29 Apr 2011 at 12:48pm
I have a huge Clematis Montana which I've had for 11 years, and know it's a good bit older due to thick stem and covering a pergola about 30 feet long when I moved in.  It should be a mass of flower buds just now but it appears to be 99.9% dead.  I can see only a couple of green leaf shoots on it.
Could it have been the cold winter (-10 degrees centigrade) that's done this, or the fact that it was trimmed in August? Or does it have a finite lifespan?
Is there anything I can do?
Will it come back to life properly or is it done for?

Posted By: schristmas
Date Posted: 30 Apr 2011 at 10:30pm

Difficult to say if it will ever come back to its former glory.

Assuming it is still alive, as there is some green growth then it is possible that the weather has killed off the upper growth (but I can only assume that the green growth is near the base and not near the point where you pruned in August). Montanas are not completely hardy in all reqions of the UK, but this is generally restricted to regions of Scotland and -10deg C should be easily within its abilities for short periods so this may or may not be the answer.

Alternatively there is a common problem with montanas where the sap is restricted from reaching the upper region of the plant and the obvious first signs are only small shoots on the lower part of the plant. Check to see that there is no sticky ooze appearing out of the bark especially near the base as this is the obvious sign of a bacterial infection.
Best to prune the montana just after it has finished flowering as by pruning in August you are removing some of the growth that produces next years flowers.

Posted By: Ron.Carlile
Date Posted: 01 May 2011 at 7:33pm
Hi Janet
I had a plant of C.montana growing up a tree , the tree had to come down , when it did they cut through the clematis one MITRE high , I assumed I had lost it but to my surprise it grew again stronger than before , on the strength of this one that was overgrown I cut back and it is now back to the top of the fence again. As Steve Say's it is best to cut back to live growth just after flowering
Best of luck


Posted By: Nunn00123
Date Posted: 02 May 2011 at 2:20pm
Some good information by the previous members. I would also stress that pruning in August is too late, as mid July should be the latest one should prune montanas. I live in Cambridge, north facing garden which is not ideal for growing montanas, the prolonged cold of the last two winters may have finished off many montanas that used to grow in our area. One other point is, if you have been in a similar situation to us with vertually no rain in the past 9 weeks, if you have not watered and fed your plant, it may be reluctant to put on any growth. You can prune back your montana at this time of year, back to where you can see growth, coupled with two gallons of water on alternate days for three aplications. Coupled with one application of a handfull of Blood Fish and Bonemeal in one dose. If the weather remains dry continue with two gallons of water per week, either until the plant is restored to good growth, or it has died.

Posted By: Janet
Date Posted: 02 May 2011 at 3:13pm
Thanks to all of you regarding advice on pruning.  It's barely been pruned at all while I've lived here as the birds move in to nest in the spring so I can't prune just after flowering.  The August prune was due to having a summerhouse installed,  and the only way to get the panels into the garden (without use of a crane!) was to go between the uprights of the pergola which required the clematis in between to be trimmed. 
I don't  think the pruning did it in as it was still alive in autumn as I remember seeing the odd flower then.
I've checked for oozing sap - none.
The small bits of growth aren't anywhere near the stem - it's about 10 feet away (plus all the meandering over the top), so there's no obvious place to cut it back to.
I had considered that the oil delivery man may have spilled some oil as the tank is a few yards away, but would have expected that to kill the whole plant outright.
Drought may well be the issue then.  Yes, it's been very dry here too.  I've watered over the past couple of days and will take your advice to keep watering and feed it.
By the way, it's had a baby - there's a very small plant growing between 2 paving stones beside it which I'll try and rescue before it destroys the patio.  This clematis appears to be going out in a blaze of non-glory!
I'll let you know what happens!

Posted By: Janet
Date Posted: 15 Jun 2015 at 11:10pm
Update - 4 years later!
It's alive!!!

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