Crav­ing clema­tis

Manitoba Gardener Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Dorothy Dob­bie

There are gar­den­ers who hes­i­tate to plant clema­tis, fear­ing that, like hot­house flow­ers, they may re­quire too much knowl­edge or care. Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth – they are ac­tu­ally quite ro­bust and no one can deny their beauty.

They are also long lived! Clema­tis has been known to stay bloom­ingly healthy un­til age 80-plus!

Clema­tis, un­like most other vines, of­fers us an end­less se­lec­tion of stun­ning bloom from spring right through fall. We tend to think of the large flow­ered types or per­haps the shy lit­tle wild clema­tis that pro­duce those stun­ning seed heads after bloom­ing, but va­ri­eties come with large, showy, sin­gle flow­ers to stun­ning dou­bles, elfin caps, bells and even flow­ers with ex­ag­ger­ated cen­tres that look like spi­ders cling­ing to petals. They can have as few as four del­i­cate petals to many mul­ti­ples of petals and the colours range from white to bril­liant red, from true blue to bright pur­ple. There are even some yel­lows in the mix and a few have bi-coloured petals.

De­sign ideas

Of­ten grown in miserly clumps on a ver­ti­cal trel­lis, we too sel­dom take ad­van­tage of the de­sign pos­si­bil­i­ties for these vines. Cre­ative gar­den­ers might grow them through the branches of a tree ( C. mon­tana is par­tic­u­larly good at this) or a shrub. Plant mul­ti­ple vines in a row to al­low them clam­ber over the length of a fence or wall. In­ter­plant them with an­other vine or even a climb­ing rose.

Plant­ing and feed­ing

Con­trary to what many be­lieve, clema­tis is not fussy and is rel­a­tively easy to grow if you fol­low a cou­ple of sim­ple rules.

• Clema­tis needs its roots to be cool and moist. You can ac­com­plish this by plant­ing a shrub in front of the vine to keep the sun off the root zone, by mulching or even shad­ing the area with a large rock.

• Plant clema­tis deeply, with at least six to eight inches of stem below grade. This will help keep the roots cool. For max­i­mum safety, pre­pare a plant­ing hole 18 inches deep and wide then fill the bot­tom with com­post cov­ered by soil and a hand­ful of bone meal. The stem needs to be ma­ture (not green) when buried to this depth.

Close-up of a clema­tis blos­som.

Clema­tis ' Alpine Willy'.

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