|7 Steps to Clematis Success1. KNOW YOUR VINE
One of the most important things you can do is properly prune your type of vine. However, after the first year all types should be cut back to 10-12”. This is important to encourage low branching and heavier flowering over the whole vine.
2. START WITH THE SOIL
Clematis prefer slightly alkaline soil. A pH of 7-7.5 is just right. Dig the hole 18” deep and wide. Work in lots of organic matter, such as EKO COMPOST. Set young plants deeply so the first two sets of leaf nodes will be underground – (see right illustration). This encourages plants to send up more stems so you’ll have a thicker plant. Water in thoroughly with Quick Start.
3. MULCHING MATTERS
“Head in the sun, feet in the shade” is old clematis advise. A 4-inch layer of mulch will keep the roots cool and moist just as well as shade does. A more colorful suggestion is to plant shallow rooted annuals around the base of the vine.
4. MAKING THE CUT
The best place to prune a stem is just above two strong buds -(see left illustration)- where two leaves were growing the previous year. These buds will quickly develop into new stems. Don’t worry about making angled cuts – it’s not necessary.
5. RECOGNIZE DISEASE QUICKLY
Clematis wilt is easy to spot: A portion of your vine wilts quickly, often just as the plant starts to bloom. Wilt is caused by a fungus that enters the stem, usually just above the soil line. There is no cure other than to cut the entire stem to the ground and dispose of it in the trash. Do this as soon as you notice the wilt. That will prevent spores from moving to other stems. Systemic fungicides can help prevent wilt from spreading to healthy stems. Apply to vines immediately after you remove infected portions. Read the package label for specific application information. The rest of the plant usually survives, providing there are enough other healthy stems. That’s another reason to plant clematis deeply: If a stem becomes infected and has to be removed, more will come from the base of the plant to replace it.
6. SERVE A BALANCED DIET
Clematis like to be well fed, but not overfed. Feed clematis plants once a year, right after pruning, with an all-purpose, granulated fertilizer, such as Osmocote.
7. CHOOSING A SITE
Clematis can vary almost as much in height as in flower color. Smaller varieties, 4’-7’, can be grown in containers with an obelisk or on small trellises. They also can be trained to grow into small trees or shrubs. These clematis are large enough to show up, but not so big that they’ll smother the shrub, giving the illusion that the woody plant blooms twice a year, with a completely different flower. Most clematis grow 8’-12’ and make excellent subjects for covering structures, such as pergolas, arbors, fences, and large trellises.
You can also use clematis as a groundcover. A good choice is ‘Sweet Autumn’ which can grow up to 20’ in one season.
Clematis vines and roses are a classic pairing. They can be grown together on a trellis for a dramatic effect.