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Past Articles Library | Pests and Diseases of Clematis

As beautiful as the clematis is, it does have a few problems.  Below is a brief description of these problems and some organic solutions.  The key to any pest or disease problem is to know your plant and to act quickly. 

Pests of the Clematis

One of the unique type of pest that many people do not think about when it comes to the clematis are rabbits and mice.  This type of damage can occur anytime during the year but normally occurs in the spring when the shoots are young and tasty.  To keep rabbits away from the clematis, one will need to place a wire cage around the plant.  Mice are a little harder to control and will require some type of trap to kill them.

Snails and slugs are another pest that can be found hanging around a clematis.  Yes, there are several different techniques by which to deal with these pests, the easiest way is to simply pick them off at night.

Numerous different types of insects lay their eggs on clematis.  The caterpillars that are produced are easily handled by simply picking them off the plant.

Aphids and scale are another type of pest that can be found on the clematis.  You may wonder why they are grouped together.  The reason is, they are both little suckers and they both produce honeydew, which is a waste product from their sucking.  Having said that, if you find ants hanging out around your clematis then chance are you have either aphids and/or scale.

Where you will find aphids and scale are different.  Aphids like new growth and in doing so they can be found on new and/or young growth.  On the other hand, scale can be found on the stems and/or under the leaves.

While there are chemical treatments for this pest, the best approach is to simply invite beneficial insects to your space.  In this situation, the best to invite is lady beetles to devour your aphids.  But this will not address the scale issue.  Since scale is covered with a hard shell, the best approach is to scrap it away with your finger nail.  If there is too much, the only choice you have is to remove the plant material that is covered with the scale and throw away. 

Red spider mites also attack the clematis.  These are very small mites that are hard to see.  How do you know if you have them?  Well, the easiest way is to shake them out.  Since they are so small, you will need to hold a piece of white paper under a clematis and shake.  If you have red spider mites, you will see little red or black dots on the white paper. 

What do you do if you find these little creatures?  One approach is to hit the plant with hard blasts of water.  This will cause the mites to become dislodged.  Another approach is to spray the plant material with a soapy solution of dish soap and water. 

Believe it or not, the clematis can be attacked by white flies.  While this normally happens in a greenhouse, if the environmental conditions are right then this insect will become a problem.  The first approach to get rid of this pest is to blast them with water.  Another approach is to have an assortment of different types of plants in your garden space.  This diversity will reduce the number of host plants.  Lastly, pull out your little vacuum for your car and begin to vacuum your clematis.  Yes, I said vacuum your clematis.  Doing this process will remove not only the white flies but also the larvae.    

As far as plant diseases go, the clematis has a few.  One is the clematis wilt.  This wilt can be seen starting at the top of the plant and it works its way down the plant.  This fungus issue is normally fatal to the plant since there is no treatment for this plant disease.  Since there is no treatment, you really have nothing to lose by trimming back the plant to the ground.  Once this is done, throw the plant material away. 

Slime flux is a plant disease that clematis’s suffer that can be prevented.  How is this you may wonder?  Well, many plant diseases are caused by the environment but slime flux is different.  This bacterium grows on the woody stem of this plant naturally.  It enters the plant when the stem is damaged.  When the weather warms, the bacterium will enter the wound and travel throughout the stem.  As the temperatures rise, the bacterium grows and pours out of the wound as a smelly slim. 

There is no treatment for this plant disease.  The best approach is to simply remove the clematis from the garden space.

To prevent this from happening in the first place is a very important step to preventing this disease.  The first step in this prevention is to make sure that you have planted your clematis far enough away from any area that may need to be mowed and/or weeded.  Second, always add mulch to the area to reduce weeding and plant damage.  Finally, be careful when you prune.

There are several different types of rusts that can attack the clematis.  What does this look like?  Well, it will first appear as swollen areas on the vine.  After this appears, you will begin to see yellow spores begin to appear.  The first approach is prevention and starts off with increasing the air circulation around the plant.  Next, learn how to water properly so that the leaves are not left wet.  This means you should only water the ground and not the vegetation.  Thirdly, if you see the swollen areas, remove immediately.   This will keep the spores from being produced and spreading the plant disease.

One plant disease that loves the clematis is powdery mildew.  This plant disease sets up on plants that are under plant stress.  In doing so, one organic approach to dealing with this plant disease is to spray it off.  Another approach is to remove some of the leaves, especially those with the powdery mildew.  What this will do is two-fold.  First, this will open up the plant and let a little light in.  Second, it will remove the diseased plant material itself.

As you can see, the clematis does have a few problems but most are easy to deal with through two approaches.  One is to invite beneficial insects to the space.  This can be done by planting an array of different flowers.  The second is to learn how to water plants properly.  In this plant’s case, it is better to water the ground verses the leaves, which in itself can be a welcoming mat for many different types of plant diseases.


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Stressed Plants

When a plant gets stressed either from lack of water, not enough nutrients, or being choked by weeds, they actually emit a different kind of chemical.

That chemical alerts bugs that here is an easy target.

One of the best ways to prevent an attack from insects to begin with, is to keep your plants as healthy, and as weed free as possible.

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