Clematis are the vertical stars of the garden and there's good reason why you need to plant them within the next two weeks
Spring is Clematis time! These versatile climbers are bursting into growth and most are showing new shoots, even though you might not have noticed. Why is this the best time to plant some of these spectacular climbing plants?
Because roots will become established relatively quickly in the warming temperatures, meaning youll benefit from a whole seasons growth and flowers this year. Plant now and allow your Clematis to become established as the soil warms. It will then be able to give you the full benefit of its imminent beauty. Why wait?
The unmistakable flowers of climbing plant Clematis that come in so many different colours and varieties.
Are Clematis difficult to grow?
A Clematis needs are simple. It likes damp, fertile soil and wont be very happy in anything that resembles a desert.
This isnt difficult and can be achieved by adding organic matter into the hole before planting, then giving everything a good soak. Unlike trees, which can suffer high mortality rates as a result of deep planting
, some Clematis like to be planted quite deeply. This applies particularly to the large flowered cultivars that flower on new growth
. In Clematis terms this is Pruning Group 3.
Deep planting, maybe with a couple of leaf nodes below the soil level, will encourage lots of stems to be produced, which means more of those large and luscious flowers.
Planting certain Clematis deeply will encourage multiple stems bearing more flowers.
Species vs Hybrids
are those which occur naturally, having not been crossed with other species or hybrids. They tend to have have smaller, nodding bell-shaped flowers rather than the large and showy hybrids. Having quite a different, fibrous root system, these don't
require the deep planting treatment. But all of them appreciate their roots to be in the shade and this can be achieved by using pebbles, mulch or shade-giving materials around the roots on top of the soil.
Those Clematis roots need to be kept in the shade. Cover them with pebbles, rocks or mulch after planting
Covering walls, pergolas and trees
If you want your climbers to scramble up pergolas
make sure you plant in areas of soil that allow rainfall to reach the roots. Avoid planting too close to the base of structures such as walls, or other plants. They will struggle to find enough moisture if they are in competition. Instead, plant about 70cm or so from the tree or structure and train your climber using a cane until it reaches the point where you wish it to climb.
Clematis 'Warwickshire Rose' is a great plant for scrambling over a pergola or trellis. But be sure not to plant the roots of any Clematis too close to a wall or tree.
Planting Clematis in pots
You can plant smaller varieties
in pots but use a large container which is at least 45cms in diameter. Root space is vital, and it will need to be fed and watered regularly for prolific blooming. All newly planted Clematis need to be watered regularly until they establish good root systems. A feed is also valuable, choosing a fertiliser specifically to promote flower production and health
which will help flower growth.
Clematis can look great in a pot but they do need water and fertiliser.
Pruning groups explained
Its really not complicated and once you get to know your Clematis you will soon understand why it needs pruning at a certain time. There are three main groups:
Group 1: They are early flowering and it stands to reason that the winter and spring flowers appear on last years or older growth. These dont need pruning, except to tidy up damaged stems. These are the species type plants.
The species type Clematis with their nodding and bell-shaped flowers generally fall into the Pruning group 1 category.
Group 2: The large, showy Clematis with big blooms
need pruning around February. Prune to a pair of healthy shoots and trim away any weak or damaged stems. They should also be pruned again after the first flush of flowers, taking the stems down to the next healthy buds. This will encourage further blooms later in the summer. Alternatively, plants in this group can be left unpruned, then pruned as per Group 3 every three or four years.
C. 'Multiblue' is a hybrid with big blooms that falls into pruning group 2.
Group 3: These Clematis really do need to be cut back hard in February. This is because they are late-flowering plants that can end up a congested tangle. Cutting back to a strong pair of buds about 30cm from the ground at the beginning of the growing season will encourage lots of fresh new growth. The plant will flower on this new growth later in the year.
C. 'Bill MacKenzie' will become quite tangled unless it is pruned back near the ground each February. It's a member of Group 3 pruning regime.
A Clematis in flower every month of the year!
Its perfectly possible to include a Clematis in your garden that will give you blooms and seed head interest for every month of the year! Heres just a few suggestions:
Clematis 'Jingle Bells' is a merry little climber that decorates the winter with white bells.
December to March or April:
January to April:
Clematis 'Constance' is a pretty alpina Clematis with deep pink nodding flowers
May to June:
- C. montana such as the beautiful pink Tetrarose; the pale pink, scented Odorata or the bold Giant Star. Some of the earlier flowering cultivars such as Clematis Piilu, for example, with its pink flowers, each petal having a dark pink central band, is smothered in blooms like just about no other during early summer.
une to August and some through to September:
C. 'Polish Spirit' is one of the easiest to grow, being both undemanding AND beautiful!
- The big and the beautiful cultivars literally hundreds to choose from. C. Polish Spirit, for example, is perhaps one of the easiest Clematis to grow and it rewards with deep purple-blue flowers with deep red anthers.
September through to January:
- Flowers AND seed heads extend the season magnificently and varieties such as C. orientalis Bill MacKenzie have bright and beautiful yellow nodding blooms, followed by the most amazing fluffy seed heads which will stay on the plant all winter. C. cirrhosa Freckles is an evergreen beauty with speckled red and white flowers so unusual to see colour in early winter.
So... there's a Clematis for every garden and for all seasons. Get at least one planted before March is over!