GROWING & COLLECTING
--- Anne K Moore
July 24, 2009 ---
Photos by Anne K Moore ---
you pronounce it CLEM-a-tis or clem-AH-tis, this vine, with its many cultivars,
should clamber all over your garden.
Wise gardener gurus have always said that these
vines should have their feet in shade and their heads in the sun. If you mulch around the roots, as any
good gardener would do, the roots will have the cooler, moister conditions they
need without the competition from evergreens or other plants placed almost on
top of them.
Competition doesn't seem to bother them much,
though. One of the best uses is to
send them up small trees or climbing rose bushes. The vines are lightweight and not heavily foliaged, so they
don't tend to smother plants they use as a trellis.
Clematis makes a good mailbox vine, since they
don't get terribly tall. Their
twining habit and delicate tendrils are easily manipulated. This calm habit can be used to
advantage even on the ground. The
vines can be left to form a small mound on the edge of the foundation planting.
Here in the sunny South, the foliage on my large
flowered clematis does suffer some edge browning when the summer sun hits the
vines full force. Full shade
doesn't work to save foliage color, though. Those I've tried in full shade struggle to climb and don't bloom. A mix of morning sunshine, noontime
shade, and early evening sun works best.
Clematis comes in flower types to meet everyone's
criteria. You can have large, what
used to be touted as dinner plate size, flowers on once blooming or multiple
choose the small jingle-bell species flowers, the little jewels that will
rebloom. Hang these little ones
near walkways where they will surprise you and your guests with their cheery
Give clematis fertile well-drained garden soil. If you have acid soil, mix lime into
the topsoil, a cup at planting and 1/2 cup each year after. Also, add a top-dressing of compost
every year. Plant the crown about
three inches below ground. Keep
the vines consistently watered.
One of the mysteries of clematis growing is when
or if to prune the vines. There
are three pruning groups associated with clematis. The pruning groups are based on when the clematis vine
flowers. A little word of
warning: Don't cut the vines off
at soil level. Many won't grow
Group 1: Spring blooming
clematis set flowers on old growth.
Lightly prune them about a month after the flowers go by. Only prune them to keep them in shape,
heading back the side branches.
Leave the main stems. Montana is in this group (zones 6-9).
Group 2: Rebloomers should
only have light pruning done in late fall or early spring since they set
flowers on both old and new wood.
Just pinch or prune to keep them in bounds. 'Nelly Moser', 'Will Goodwin', and 'Henrii' are in this
pruning group (Zones 4-9).
Group 3: These are both the
large flowered types and the little bells. Summer and fall blooming clematis will blossom on new spring
growth. Prune them in early spring
as the buds begin to swell. Cut
back to within six to twelve inches of the ground, leaving at least two to
three sets of strong leaf buds. The
big purple flowered 'Jackmanii' and the little bell Integrifolia is in this group (Zones 4-9).