Naming names: A wiltless clematis

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Here are two wiltless wonders of the clematis world, stalwarts that we planted right into a spot previously occupied by a wilt ridden 'Nelly Moser'. Years later they continue to carry on, wilt-free. There are so many small flowered, wilt resistant beauties we think you won't ever regret digging out one that's large-flowered-if-it-ever-lived-to-bloom. 

So you guys nailed it last week, showed exactly what's going on with my clematis (Klem AH tis? Klem AY tis?) Except you didn't explain "Why me." We just moved in to this house last year and I was so pleased to realize what that vine on the lamp pole was. I always wanted one of those. Now everyone else's is gorgeous and mine's a dud. Why does my vine have this clematis wilt when every other one around is fine? - S.L. -


With respect, we think you're suffering from the same perspective problem that affects those who yearn for blue hydrangeas and romantic wisteria. That is, you are noticing only the blooming plants. You probably don't even recognize the non-blooming, wilt-struck clematis vines. (We say KLEM ah tiss but it and the two you sounded out are all in the dictionary.)

You don't have to take our word for it. You could go door to door, asking, "Do you have a clematis vine? How's it blooming?" (You might try variable pronunciation to test for the most popular sound. If you do, let us know!) We figure about one home in three or four has or had a large-flowered types, and half of those are suffering from wilt or were removed recently when the gardener finally decided to end the frustration.

The small flowered species are resistant to wilt. Although they are different in appearance from the large flowered hybrids, they are still beautiful. More beautiful, if dependability is given any weight in the assessment. Try one of these we swear by, or check in at the Forum where we've asked others to post their wiltless winners' names.



We took a large flowered clematis off of this trellis when it wilted two years in a row. In its place we planted two small flowered plants -- the star-like Clematis viticella 'Madame Julia Correvon' and the open bells of C. texensis 'Princess Diana'.


Resistant, not immune

Sometimes a resistant, small-flowered clematis loses a section of vine to wilt but it's the exception rather than the rule, and rarely involves a main cane. That's how resistance works. It's not immunity, just less chance of contracting the fungus and more chance the plant will quickly compartmentalize the damage to end the infection.