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Growing and Caring For Clematis

Clematis Rebecca

Clematis are one of the most popular, easy to grow flowering vines. With a little preparation and care, your clematis vine will provide cheerful abundant seasonal  blooms.

  • Soil- Clematis prefer rich, organic soil (no heavy clay) that is slightly alkaline. Additional limestone is not necessary unless a soil test reveals a pH less than 6. If you don’t know your soil pH, just concentrate on good soil preparation.
  • Site- full sun to part shade is just fine for most clematis. A few varieties, see listed below, will actually tolerate quite a bit of shade.
  • Mulch- “head in the sun, feet in the shade” is the old clematis advice. In any case, a 2-4 inch layer of mulch is advised once the soil warms up during the hot summer months. To prevent stem rot, be sure to keep the mulch well away from the base of your clematis vine.
  • Disease- Clematis wilt is easy to spot.  A portion of the vine wilts overnight. This is caused by a fungus that enters the stem just above the soil line. cut out the diseased portion right away and dispose of in the trash, away from the remaining healthy vine. Also keep mulch away from the base of the plant allowing good air circulation and sunlight to reach the bottom of the vine.
  • Feed- Fertilize your plant once a year in the spring, right after pruning or tidying up

Pruning Clematis

Actually clematis will survive and bloom with no pruning whatsoever. But for the most beautiful vigorous flowering vines, regular pruning is a good idea. Do no pruning at all for one full year. Just let the plant get established. Never prune in the fall. Late season pruning encourages new growth which easily freezes during the winter months.

Observe your plant the first year-pay attention to when it blooms. And also note whether it blooms on old woody stems from last year (old wood) or on new green growth (new wood) from the current year.

Spring Blooming Clematis

If your plant does not appear to die back over winter and blooms early in the spring (on old wood) cut back, tidy up after the initial spring bloom. This encourages reblooming. Some double flowering clematis and other varieties have a second flush of smaller sized flowers that bloom on new wood. These should be trimmed lightly like the spring flowering plants, immediately after the first bloom period.

Summer Blooming Clematis

This is a large group of popular varieties like Jackmanni and the Sweet Autumn clematis. If you notice that your plant dies completely down over winter or if the flowers are small and all at the top (on new growth) with lots of dead foliage at the base- then you must be ruthless in your pruning. Prune these plants down early in the spring to about one foot from the ground. This promotes new vigorous growth that will flower well.

Shade Loving Clematis

  • Nelly Moser
  • Vitivella Venosa Violacea
  • Paniculata
  • Corrine- new in 2015
  • Sapphire Indigo- new for 2015
  • Sweet Summer Love
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