The Gardener’s Corner

The Gardener’s Corner

How to grow and care for a clematis

Several years ago, I started getting into clematis.

The clematis is a genus of about 300 species and a garden standby since 1862. It is a climbing plant of the buttercup family.

In southern British Columbia, we had many colours to choose from, but most cannot grow here.

Clematis is a bit difficult plant and tricky to grow. When all the necessary steps are taken, you will have a much-appreciated display.

This shrub requires full sun, except the first 18 inches must be in the shade, or it will die. To create those 18 inches of shade, I have often planted peonies or Dahlias.

When planting, make sure the hole is about two by two feet and filled with good soil, but allow for the root to travel three to four feet.

This shrub must never dry out. During the growing season, please give it some liquid fertilizer such as Miracle Grow every two weeks.

The clematis can quickly grow up to 12 feet with the proper support structure.

Privacy was of the primary concern for me, but if you are creative, nearly anything is possible. Clematis can climb mesh wire on a wall, tall fences and also be extremely attractive climbing up a two by two-inch post wrapped with chicken wire. This post should be set in concrete.

I have even stretched a wire from the top of a two-by-two-inch post horizontally, just above eight feet height, to some other object. The clematis, with some help, will follow that wire and grow to the other end.

Since the root system is very shallow, lack of moisture will probably do the clematis the most harm. One way to prevent this can be to use a moisture meter. This tool should be a standard tool for any serious gardener. One should use it before and after watering.

When the clematis gets established, pruning is unavoidable. This shrub likes to spread, so trim the new growth back after each blooming.

After some years, when the shrub doesn’t have many flowers four to five feet from the ground, it has what I call “gone woody.”

After it has bloomed the first time in the spring, cut the clemtais down to one foot from the soil, leaving only one stem. This job requires a lot of patience because every piece of the shrub has to be cut out.

If this isn’t done, the shrub will die. After a couple of weeks, new growth will emerge from the old stem, and a brand new clematis will soon appear.

When the clematis is well-established, the seeds from the flowers get blown around and I will find new plants showing up here and there.

Then I have to find unique places to put them. It might be a dead tree or a fence post. B

By using the above guidelines, your company will admire your creativity.

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