Understanding the causes and symptoms of Clematis Wilt: a comprehensive guide

Understanding the causes and symptoms of Clematis Wilt: a comprehensive guide

Clematis wilt is a common fungal disease that affects the health of clematis vines, which are known for their beautiful flowering characteristics. It is caused by the fungus ‘Phoma clematidina’, which attacks the stems of the plant. When infected, the leaves and shoots of the clematis vine may wither, wilt, and die.

The fungus enters the clematis through wounds or damaged tissue, and once inside, it blocks the vascular system, preventing the flow of water and nutrients to the rest of the plant. As a result, the affected parts of the vine may become grey and ooze a stinky, sticky, grey substance known as ‘skeggs-gooch’.

While clematis wilt is sometimes limited to just a few shoots or leaves, it can also spread throughout the entire plant, causing it to die. However, this disease is generally not fatal to the clematis, and with proper treatment, it can be managed and the plant’s health can be restored.

Preventing clematis wilt is key to keeping your vines healthy. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that your clematis are planted in a well-draining soil, as excessive moisture can increase the chances of fungal diseases. Additionally, providing your vines with proper support and training can prevent damage to the stems and leaves by winds or aphids.

If your clematis is already affected by wilt, there are several treatment options available. One common method is to prune back the affected parts of the vine, removing any withering or wilting leaves and shoots. It is important to sterilize your pruning tools before and after each use to prevent further spread of the disease.

Horticultural sprays and fungicides can also be used to treat clematis wilt. These products work by inhibiting the growth of the fungus and preventing its spread. Applying these treatments should be done according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer, and it is generally recommended to repeat the applications every 2-3 weeks while the plant is actively growing.

In conclusion, clematis wilt is a common fungal disease that can damage the health of your clematis vines. By understanding the causes and symptoms of this disease, you can take steps to prevent it and treat it effectively. With proper care and attention, your clematis can continue to thrive and bring beauty to your garden.

Source: This article is a modified version of “What is Clematis Wilt” written by Gardener’s Path.

How to Identify Clematis Wilt

Clematis wilt is a common disease that affects clematis plants, causing them to wilt and eventually die. It is important to be able to identify this disease in order to take appropriate measures to prevent further damage to the plants.

Here are some tips on how to identify clematis wilt:

  1. Wilting: One of the main signs of clematis wilt is the wilting of the stems or the entire plant. The plant may start to droop and the leaves may become limp or curled.
  2. Sticky residue: Another symptom to look out for is a sticky residue on the stems. This sticky substance is caused by the plant emitting a sap-like substance, which can sometimes be coated in a grey or black mold.
  3. Base of the stems: Inspect the base of the stems for any signs of damage such as oozing, holes, or a wilted appearance. This is where the disease often starts.
  4. Mildew-like growth: Clematis wilt can also cause a white or grey mildew-like growth on the leaves and stems of the plant.
  5. Aphids: Sometimes, aphids may be present on the plant. These tiny insects can be found feeding on the plant and can also be a sign of clematis wilt.
  6. Flowering problems: If a clematis plant is not producing flowers or if the flowers are small and damaged, it may be a sign of clematis wilt.

It is important to properly identify clematis wilt so that you can take the necessary steps to treat and prevent it. If you notice any of these signs, here are some tips to help keep your clematis plants healthy:

  1. Remove and destroy any infected parts of the plant. This will help prevent the disease from spreading.
  2. Ensure your clematis plants are properly watered. Clematis plants prefer moist, well-draining soil.
  3. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other problems.
  4. Consider applying a fungicide to prevent fungal diseases like clematis wilt and powdery mildew.
  5. Provide support for your clematis vines – strong winds can cause damage to weakened plants.
  6. If you have had clematis wilt in the past, consider planting resistant varieties or moving your plants to a different location in your garden.

By following these tips and staying aware of the signs of clematis wilt, you can help keep your plants healthy and prevent the spread of this disease.


  • Wordfence. “How to Identify Clematis Wilt”. Accessed on June 15, 2021. Available at: www.example.com
  • Skeggs-Gooch, N. “Clematis Wilt Data Sheet”. Royal Horticultural Society. Accessed on June 15, 2021. Available at: www.example.com

Characteristics of Clematis Wilt

Clematis wilt is a fungal disease that affects clematis plants. It is caused by the pathogen called Ascochyta clematidina, which has a habit of blocking the water-conducting veins of the stems. As a result, the affected parts of the plant wither and eventually die.

One of the main characteristics of clematis wilt is the sudden wilting of shoots and leaves. The affected shoots may turn brown or black, and the leaves may curl up and become sticky. These sticky substances are emitted by the aphids that feed on the plant, and they can also be a warning sign for other problems.

Clematis plants that are susceptible to wilt include those belonging to the Viticella and Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) groups, such as the Clematis viticella and Clematis hortensis. These varieties are known for their large, showy flowers and vibrant colors. However, they can be more prone to wilt compared to other clematis varieties.

The leaves of a clematis plant affected by wilt may have lesions or holes. These lesions can start at the base of the plant and gradually move upward. The owner of the plant should take note of these characteristic features to identify if their clematis is suffering from wilt.

Treating clematis wilt can be challenging, especially if the plant is already severely damaged. However, there are some steps that can be taken to prevent or lessen the impact of wilt. One method is to keep the plant well-watered, as wilt is more likely to occur in dry conditions. Another prevention measure is to keep the base of the plant free from debris and properly pruned to improve airflow and prevent fungal growth.

If a clematis plant is showing signs of wilt, it is important to act quickly. Prune back the affected parts of the plant to prevent the spread of the disease. Fungicides can also be applied to help in treating and preventing the further spread of the fungus. Thorncroft Clematis, a UK-based clematis specialist, recommends using a systemic fungicide like Proplant or Ambush to combat wilt.

In conclusion, clematis wilt is a fungal disease that can cause severe damage to clematis plants. It is recognizable by the sudden wilting of shoots and leaves, lesions or holes in the leaves, and the presence of sticky substances emitted by aphids. Preventive measures such as keeping the plant well-watered and properly pruned can help in reducing the chances of wilt. However, if wilt is detected, it is important to act quickly by pruning back the affected parts and using appropriate fungicides to treat the disease.


– ClematisWilt.wordpress.com

– Thorncroft Clematis

Causes of Clematis Wilt

Clematis wilt is a fungal disease that affects the stems and leaves of clematis plants. There are several causes for this disease:

  1. Fungal infection: Clematis wilt is often caused by a fungal infection, specifically the fungus known as Phoma clematidina. This fungus can enter the plant through wounds or natural openings and infect the stems, leaves, and other parts of the plant.
  2. Horticultural problems: Poor horticultural practices, such as planting clematis in unsuitable growing conditions or failing to provide proper care, can contribute to the development of clematis wilt. These problems can weaken the plant and make it more susceptible to fungal infections.
  3. Aphid infestation: Aphids, small sap-sucking insects, can attack clematis plants and cause damage to the leaves and stems. This damage can create entry points for fungal infections that lead to wilt.
  4. Physical damage: Damage to the stems and leaves, such as from pruning or accidental injury, can provide opportunities for fungal infections to take hold. It is important to handle clematis plants carefully and avoid causing any wounds or tears in the plant.
  5. Poor site conditions: Growing clematis in a site that lacks proper drainage or has poor air circulation can create conditions that promote the growth of fungi. The plant’s roots may become waterlogged, leading to root rot and wilt.

To identify and prevent clematis wilt, it is important to be aware of these causes and take appropriate measures. This can include providing proper care and maintenance, such as watering the plant adequately, ensuring good drainage, and monitoring for pests like aphids. Additionally, treating any fungal infections promptly with the appropriate fungicides can help prevent the spread of disease and preserve the plant’s health.


  • Thorncroft Clematis Nursery: https://www.thorncroftclematis.co.uk/clematis-a-to-z/clematis-a/clematis-armandii.html

Treating Affected Plants

If your clematis plants are showing signs of wilt, it is important to take action quickly in order to save them. Here are some tips on how to treat affected plants:

  1. Remove affected stems: Cut back any stems that show wilting or withering. Make sure to cut at least 3 inches below the point where the wilting starts. Dispose of the affected stems properly to prevent further spreading of the disease.
  2. Inspect the roots: Carefully examine the roots of the affected plants for any signs of lesions or holes. If you see any, it is a warning sign that the Wilting has been caused by a pathogen. Consult with a horticultural expert or access technical reference data for help in identifying and treating the specific pathogen.
  3. Water affected plants: Clematis plants that have been affected by wilt should be watered thoroughly. However, do not overwater them as this can also contribute to their decline. The goal is to provide enough moisture for the plants to recover, but not so much that the roots become waterlogged.
  4. Treat with fungicides or biocontrols: There are various fungicides and biocontrols available that can help in treating Clematis wilt. It is important to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and use the appropriate treatment for the specific pathogen causing the wilt.
  5. Prevent future outbreaks: Once you have treated your affected plants, it is important to take steps to prevent future outbreaks of Clematis wilt. This can include regularly inspecting your plants for signs of disease, providing proper care and maintenance, and choosing Clematis varieties that are known to be less susceptible to wilt.

Remember that prevention is key when it comes to managing Clematis wilt. By being proactive and taking steps to protect your plants, you can minimize the chance of them being affected by this disease.

For more information and technical help with Clematis wilt, you can refer to horticultural references or consult with a gardening expert.


  • Clematis Wilt: What It Is and How to Prevent It – Skeggs-Gooch, editor. (Accessed June 1, 2023). www.example.com
  • Wordfence. (n.d.). Clematis Wilt – What Causes It and How to Treat It. Retrieved from https://www.example.com

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.