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I have a new Clematis montana which appears to have had all the bark stripped from top to bottom! The remaining leaves have started to wilt (it has lost most leaves) although they do not show the signs of Clematis wilt. It is grown against a fence/trellis which has horizontal, fairly deep scratch marks on it. Another established montana nearby is fine and still in full leaf. 

I am very perplexed, does anyone have any ideas please?


Snails will strip off clematis bark. 

Alina W

Slugs will strip bark at ground level, but I suspect that such widescale damage is an animal of some sort, possibly a cat, dog or squirrel. It's not common, but animals can sometimes get strange obsessions.

Stripped stems won't survive, so you may as well trim them down to ground level; new ones will grow next year. Make sure that you protect the new growth from slugs in spring, and protect the shoots higher by constructing a tube of chicken wire that surrounds the new shoots - that should stop problems from animals.


Thankyou. Would they strip a whole plant?



Scratching post for some animal/cat perhaps? BTW leaves are dying back now anyway, so that's normal, unless the stem scratches are deep enough to have damaged the internal parts? J.



Thankyou Alina, I appreciate the advice. 


Yes, snails will strip the bark off a whole montana  the little b*******s 


Thankyou everyone. I think I'll cut it back to gound level and hope for the best. My poor plant, it was doing so well....


Put some wildlife friendly slug pellets out now if it's warm and then again on Valentine's Day (cos it's easy to remember) and at regular intervbals throughout spring.  this way you'll get the blighters just before the hibernate and also when they emerge, hatch and before they start to munch and breed.   Used sparingly but regularly they can save clematis, hostas and other plants from becoming slug and snail gourmet feasts.


I'll just add my probably irrelevant contribution that deer ate my clematis, before we fenced off most of the flower garden. In my previous garden in Kent it was rabbits.


What are wildlife friendly slug pellets?  Friendly to what wildlife?  If you kill all the slugs and snails what will the hedgehogs and birds have to eat? 


When I had this problem in my last garden with snails eat my clematis (and it was definitely snails as I'd find them in the morning, sitting happily replete in the branches of my montana and snoozing, waiting for the evening to strip more bark from its branches) apart from picking them from the clematis in the morning and .....  

I bought loads of coarse grit and mulched a large area around the clematis stems with it.  It seemed to deter the little blighters a bit.  

I agree with Welshonion, I do not use slug pellets, whether they're supposed to be "wildlife friendly" or not.



Wildlife friendlypellets do not harm anything except slugs and snails.  Any surplus breaks down into the soil to make a harmless iron compound whereas metaldehyde based pellets kill or make ill all sortsof other creatures.  

I'm not suggesting blanket pelleting so there will be plenty of slugs and snails left over in other parts of the garden to feed hedgehogs and thrushes.  Recent studies indicate that hedgehogs don't actually eat that many slugs anyway.


Thankyou obelixx I will try the pellets. 


in one raised herb bed last week i removed 57 assorted slugs of every kind, understanding that lots off wildlife is now kipping  i went into the hedghog info on the net only to find hedghogs only eat slugs if they are starving,cant say i blame them for that ? but if thats the case do birds actually eat slugs as slugs cant move very fast they are so easy for the birds to catch but i hav,nt seen this ,Snails yes most deffinatly ,the birds up the allotment actually wait for me to throw them the snails i remove from the beds, slugs im not sure ? so what do slugs actually do ,they must have a reason to be there i suppose, wish i new what  and valentines day now has altogether a new meaning to me

good luck all Alan4711




Slugs are good at processing dead vegetative matter and breaking it down as part of the cycle of growth, death and recycling.  Unfortunately they also have gourmet appetities for some of our treasures so need to be controlled in some parts of the garden.

Apparently ducks like slugs but you'd have to have apond for them and also be prepared for all their mess so best, in my opinion, to live with slugs but manage them where you need to. 

Any ideas why my 10 year old Montana has died? It grew lots of green tendrils this year and was about to flower when it suddenly died. The stems at the bottom of the plant had a black centre , and fell apart on inspection.There were no signs of any munching from snails or slugs.

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