This Clematis plant was glorious this spring but now half of it is brown and dying. It's become a real eye-sore. What should I do? And how often and what should I feed a blue hydrangea plant?
Howard County Maryland
This summer has been hard on clematis. This sounds like clematis wilt. Clematis wilt is a fungal disease. The disease is worse in years when the weather adds additional stress like our current dry spell and hot temps. Clean up diseased plant materials. Spraying the ground won't help as the disease spores need to splash from an infected plant to new clean material to infect a new plant. The large flowering species are more susceptible, so if you have a site that you need to replace go with the smaller flowering species. There are some growers who say the plants may come back from the root even after a year. . Good cultural practices are very important to the health of clematis. Well drained soil, good sunlight, no debris around roots, don't cultivate near the roots, good irrigation practices, and clean up any diseased material quickly when it happens. No other sprays or fumigants for the soil are recommended.
Established trees and shrubs, such as hydrangea, do not need to be fertilized other than allowing leaf debris to decompose under them. A layer of compost under them is always appreciated by them in the fall.