Clematis is one of the vines we always get requests for but not many people know how to grow it. After 30 years of trying I have to admit I am still a bit stumped but have developed some general rules for success. One thing that these plants seem to like is a ‘hot top, cool bottom.’ Which implies exactly that, the roots like to be shaded by other shrubs or mulch but the leaves need a lot of sun to flower properly.
Each type of Clematis seems to have it’s own likes about flowering on new wood or getting cut back completely. Often times the varietal names are lost so you have to guess what they want. My way is to wait until spring and see what part of the plant has been killed by winter and prune to that spot. It is also a plant that I install slightly deeper then most other plants. Covering one or two buds under the soil seem to help it establish stronger.
This 2010 introduction is from Raymond Evison, who has been breeding and introducing Clematis for over 50 years now. They have some very distinctive and showy types. Raymond seems to be one breeder that doesn’t rush varieties to the market, which is a welcome change.
Clematis is generally a pain in the butt to grow but is one of those plants if it likes the conditions it grows very well. If it doesn’t like them it struggles and eventually peters out. They are also subject to Clematis wilt, which often takes the plant out just before it flowers. The only way I have found to slow the wilt down is with a couple of well timed fungicide applications early in the season and that doesn’t always work. In general you can help the plants by watching your watering timing and keeping the area around the stems clean (good fall clean up). The fungus kills the top but usually leaves the roots alive.
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