Nancy Brachey

Armand clematis isn't dying

Q. I have an Armand clematis vine that is 5 or 6 years old. It has spread 33 feet across my patio fence. It has always been very healthy until this year. It has clumps of dead leaves that occur on vines that also have live growth on them. It gets watered regularly but has been fertilized very little.

Do these plants have a lifespan, and is this one near its end? Will it respond to fertilizer and if so, what kind?

The Armand clematis is one of the most vigorous vines and you should not view yours as ready to conk out. The clumps of dead leaves could simply be the normal passing out of the most elderly foliage. Have you looked for insects that could be infesting the plant?

Trim off some of the brown foliage. After the bloom season early next year, do some pruning to generate new growth. At the same time, fertilize the plant with a garden fertilizer such as 10-10-10.

Animal repellant for roses

Q. We transplanted my grandmother's climbing rose to our yard. The rose produced new growth the first spring and looked great. To my dismay, I noticed the new growth cut away to the ground. I suspected deer. I enclosed the rose in a metal cage with a top. The rose grew fast and then again, the foliage was cut down. Would the rose do well in a large container with a trellis on my deck? When should I transplant it?

Have you tried any of the animal repellants? Since you have just one plant to protect, it might be easy enough to use one of these sprays. Some are formulated especially for rabbits or deer.

You could move the plant to a large pot on your deck this fall. It will require significantly more attention for watering than it does in the ground.

Magnolia will bloom with time

Q. Five years ago, we planted a 1-foot-high volunteer magnolia tree from a friend's yard. It is now more than 7 feet high and beautiful, but it never blooms. It has not produced a bud or a bloom. What should we do?

I am afraid all I can suggest is patience. Your tree came from a seedling and it is likely to be many more years for it to reach the maturity required to bloom. The textbook rule is such seedling magnolias can take 15 to 20 years to bloom. But it should be stunning.

Magnolias bought in garden centers are typically propagated from cuttings of mature wood, which brings them into bloom faster