July Plant Pick: Clematis

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Clematis is a lovely deciduous/evergreen vine that will look lovely planted in the ground or container.  The deep-colored blossoming varieties, (red, purple, white, blue) can tolerate full sun. The lighter-blooming (lilac, lavender, pink) will tolerate more shade and actually ‘pop’ better in light shade. They like a regular rose-type fertilizer in the growing season (EB Stone Rose and Flower Food, Maxsea 3-20-20). Use Soil Moist, SureStart and Agricultural Lime when planting.

Clematis need regular moisture, good drainage and for their roots to be cool. Regular watering is vital; if the leaves at the bottom of the plant turn yellow and fall off, it’s because of lack of water. Use Sluggo for snails in the early spring so the deciduous plants get off to a good start.

Plant the crown of the plant about 2” below the soil surface level, (like tomatoes), this will make a much stronger plant. Sloat also carries clematis as indoor plants, the “Garland” series will flower for 6-8 weeks indoors. When they finish blooming they can be cut back to 6” then placed in a larger pot for outdoors.

Knowing when to prune clematis can be intimidating. The type of pruning you do depends on when the plants flower. If you don’t know what kind it is then watch it for a year to see when the plants bloom: then prune accordingly.

Spring-blooming clematis bloom only on the previous year’s wood. Cut back a month after flowering to restrict sprawl, preserving main branches (examples-Josephine, Nelly Moser, c.Montana, c.armandii, c.alpina, c.macropetala).

Summer- and fall-blooming clematis bloom on wood produced in the spring. Cut back in late fall after flowering or in early spring as buds swell. For the first 2-3 years, cut back to within 6”-12” of the ground. Cut to 2’ or less on older plants.

Spring-and summer/fall-blooming clematis bloom on old wood in spring, new wood later. Do only light, corrective pruning in fall or early spring: pinch or lightly shape portions that have bloomed to stimulate low-branching.

Since most of these vines are deciduous they are not good screens but look fantastic when allowed to grow up into climbing roses or shrubs or even trees.

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