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Hilltop's Variety Spotlight

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Clematis are often called the “Queen of Vines” because of their beauty. These garden gems come in a wide array of colors to brighten almost any spot.

  • Single blooms are the most common, ranging in size from 1” to 10”.

  • Double flowered varieties tend to have double blooms on old wood (spring blooms) and single blooms on the current year’s growth (summer and fall blooms).

  • Some flowers are bell shapes, others tiny star shaped, but the most common and sought after are the large flat ones.

The (very) short version on how to grow clematis:

Clematis like cool, moist, rich, deep, root room:

  • Give clematis plenty of root room. Dig a hole 18”x18”x18” if possible. Add compost/peat moss to good garden soil for back filling. If your soil is very heavy, 3-6” of sand, mixed into that giant hole, will be helpful for drainage.

  • Plant so the root ball is about 6” below the ground level; back fill as the vine ripens ( turns woody; no longer green)

  • Keep the clematis well watered

Clematis like their feet in the shade, so plant a small shrub or perennial (up to 3’ tall) in front of the clematis to shade the roots. Clematis can grow in full sun (if the roots are shaded), but will also grow well in bright shade (see definition in Wisdom). Some varieties are more shade tolerant while others actually benefit from the shade.

Clematis attach to their support by twisting their leaf petioles around the support.

  • Chicken wire or concrete re-mesh make a great trellis for clematis

  • Clematis will not twine around any support that is more than 1” in diameter.

Clematis benefit from pruning:

  • Prune all clematis back to two sets of leaf buds (6-12” tall) the first February or March after you plant them.

  • Group A plants bloom in the spring on old wood only. These plants get pruned in May or June just after flowering. (We don’t offer any of this group.)

  • Group B1 plants bloom May/June and again in September. Prune at varying lengths (February/March) and prune out weak/dead wood.

  • Group B2 plants bloom June through September. Can be pruned like group B1 or C.

  • Group C plants bloom on new growth only. Prune back to two sets of strong leaf buds in late February or March.

Clematis are susceptible to Clematis Wilt, caused by a fungus.

  • Fungus usually enters the plant at a point of plant injury. (Take care not to damage vines.)

  • If wilt occurs, cut off the wilted part and 1” more of the healthy part. The plant should re-grow.

  • Species clematis and clematis with viticella genetics are more resistant to “wilt”. Clematis’ biggest enemy is the Weed Eater, so be careful!

Clematis benefit from feeding.

  • Use a general purpose fertilizer to establish the plants

  • Use a high phosphorous fertilize to set buds (blossom booster)

  • Don’t feed after mid-August

  • Osmocote time-release fertilizer will feed your plants all season with one application

Cut clematis blooms just as they open to use as a cut flower. Their poufy seed heads are great for dried arrangements.

Clematis are very social plants. Plant two or more in each hole and they will get along famously! To dazzle your neighbors with your sheer brilliance, you can put a mix of colors or bloom forms in each hole. How about a mixture of similar colors with differing bloom times for an unending stream of color? Be the envy of the neighborhood!

Variety Spotlight #8, 2/8/2014 © Hilltop Farm

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