If clematis leaves turn brown from the bottom up and intermittently wilt, chances are good that a lack of water is the problem. Clematis plants require a large volume of water to remain healthy. One of the first signs that the plant is not getting enough water is browning on its leaf tips and wilting. Owners should water a clematis with 4 to 5 gallons of water weekly.
Another possible reason for wilting and browning is damage from voles, which are small rodents similar to mice. Owners can identify a vole problem by inspecting the base of the plant and looking for holes 1 to 2 inches in diameter about 3 to 4 feet from the base. If any holes are present, voles are the problem. Voles can be controlled by baiting a trap for them. Once the animals have been eradicated, the clematis often resumes normal growth.
When vole damage and under-watering are ruled out, the problem may be caused by a fungal infection. Clematis plants are prone to clematis wilt, a systemic problem that has no known cure or solution. Clematis wilt most commonly affects young plants and, in some cases, the plant outgrows the condition and becomes healthy again as it matures.