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I have three beautiful clematis that grow up and over a large trellis. They grow well and are covered with buds and flowers every year. The problem is as soon as they get to their best they start dying from the bottom up. The leaves turn yellow then brown, at which point they start to fall off. I have removed the leaves as soon as I see it start to happen but it makes no difference. The roots are in the shade under slate and the tops are in sun.

Anyone have any ideas as to how to stop this happening and what could be causing it.


The slate could be heating up in the sun and cooking the roots having the oposite effect to what you are wanting.


Take away the slate and give them a good mulch of garden compost or spent planting  compost instead.   Make sure they get a general feed in early spring - blood, fish and bone - and specific rose or clematis food at intervals until flowering ends or mid July, whichever comes first.   Don't let them get thirsty in hot or dry periods.

flowering rose

don't feed until they are in flower and only a weak solution .they need shade for feet ,sun for head and lots of drinking water.don't forget to plant them deep in the soil to avoid damage by rot.


Thank you all for your advice. I shall certainly try what you have suggested especially with the feed. I have also heard that yellowing of leaves can be caused by a mineral deficiency that can be treated with epsom salts. Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.



Epsom salts contain magnesium which is good for terating chlorosis, or yellowing of leaves, especially on evergreen subjects such as rhodos, camellias, conifers.    Clematis are generally hungry plants so need a broad range feed for roots and foliage with extra oomph for flowers.  Propietary clematis feed will have eveything they need and rose or tomato fertiliser which come in liquid form are good for an instant tonic.


Thanks obelixx.  I think I shall feed them this year with a clematis feed and see if this makes a difference. I would normally just use Miracle Gro so maybe it's not quite rich enough.

It sounds like clematis wilt. If the above treatments do not work try cutting all of the growth right down to soil level when the wilt occurs, give the plants a feed, a good deep much around the base of the plants and cover the soil around the base with slabs of some kind.

Clematis like to grow with their heads in the sun and their feet in the cool damp shade.

Good luck.


Hi Joyce.

I always thought clematis wilt started at the top and worked it's way down? Mine's the other way round from the bottom up. And it's all three so I'm thinking maybe it is the feed that's affecting them.

I'm going to buy a good clematis feed and see what happens this year. Will post some pics in the summer.


You are right Joolz.  If the top half of the clems are all OK, you haven't got wilt.

Gardening Grandma

Tentative suggestion. Clematis naturally flower at the top and if the stems are not spread out the bottom bit will tend to die back. The stems need to go diagonally. This might solve your problem.

Clematis wilt is rather like global warming and swine flu, you hear a lot about it but never actually see it.  This is not clematis wilt, it is a sign that the plant is too dry.


Well they grow on a wall at least 7ft long so they are nice and spread out. They do grow beautifully, very full with masses of flowers. But then as I have said they start dying from the bottom up. And they have done this for the last 3 years so maybe there is just not enough nutrients in what I have been feeding them.

Can't wait now for summer to see what happens with a richer feed.


I will Gardening Grandma. Roll on summer.


My evergreen clamatis(I have no idea the variety) has done great the prior 2 summers.(this being its 3rd) this year at least a quarter of the leaves have turned brown and died. Roots to hot? Not enough water? I'm befuddled.


Joolz, please keep me posted. Mine are doing the same thing. Beautiful and full of flowers in early spring and then BAM! Bottom half is brown. When I follow a brown stem it will eventually have green leafy sprouts and flowers or buds Half way up. The trellis is on the east facing side of the deck. The plants get shade on the roots by midday and the soil is plenty moist, but not drowned in moisture. I'm going to give a dose of Epsom and add some food in. I'll let you know the result. Please do the same for me and let me know what steps you took. 🙏🏻😎


This is a very old thread pavedngold. I doubt Joolz is still around!  

It sounds as if it's not been trained and tied in sufficiently well when younger, and is therefore leggy. If it's flowering in April, it's likely to be a montana or an alpina variety. If you can give more info that will help with advice. 

Feeding it won't help if it's already sickly. 

Joolz13 says:

Thanks obelixx.  I think I shall feed them this year with a clematis feed and see if this makes a difference. I would normally just use Miracle Gro so maybe it's not quite rich enough.

See original post

 Miracle grow is far too "rich" (too  high in nitrogen.)  "The current formulation of Miracle Gro All Purpose Plant food is 28-8-16. That means that it is 28% nitrogen, 8% phosphorus, and 16% Potassium."

"When should you feed clematis?  What kind of fertilizer to use on clematis? Clematis is a heavy feeder; supply a low nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-10 in spring, when the buds are about 2 inches long.

Alternate feedings every 4 to 6 weeks with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer. Continue this alternate feeding until the end of the growing season."

5-10-10 NPK in spring and 10-10-10 in summer. 

Too much nitrogen is like someone on steroids. Good but unhealthy growth.  I would not touch Miracle grow with a barge pole. 

Miracle Grow  might just work  for annual bedding plants but for any plants you want to keep healthy for a few seasons leave well alone.


i was told to buy clematis feed by nursery and on the instructions it said feed every three months with this pellet feed the dose as per instructions but as in previous messages they say don't feed very much unfortunately a few of my clematis have lost leaves and now look really sad I had a lovely display early summer now all I have are brown sticks coming out the ground with a bit of growth at the top 😟