Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Plant Profile: Clematis


Clematis is a perennial vine that features blooms from large and small in a rainbow of colors. The flowers shapes can vary from layered stars to tiny bells. Many have wavy edges or twisting petals.

The showy flowers aren’t the only cool thing about clematis. They also attractive seed heads that last for months and add additional seasons of interest. Clematis make excellent cut flowers and their seed heads are great to use in dried arrangements.

Some clematis are more shrubby than vining; and others have a running habit that makes them a good groundcover option. Some of the climbing vines are aggressive spreaders like the invasive ‘Sweet Autumn’ Clematis, while most others are slow-growing and stay relatively small—making them perfect for a container.

There are springtime bloomers; while others bloom late in the summer and into fall.

There are over 200 different species of clematis and hundreds of different cultivars. The purple ‘Jackmanii’ is the best-known clematis of all time. Also popular is the pink-and-white ‘Nelly Moser’ and the new ‘Taiga,’ with its dramatic green center.

There is a native Clematis virginiana, known commonly as Virgin’s Bower, that looks very similar to ‘Sweet Autumn’ Clematis. There is also Clematis viorna with bell-shaped blooms that is native to the southeastern U.S.

Clematis are said to demanding to grow and harder to prune, but their needs are actually fairly simple. Clematis want their roots kept moist and their heads in the sun. (One exception to that rule is the pastel-flowering clematis, which will fade in strong afternoon sun.)

Don’t worry. You won’t kill it by pruning at the wrong time. If you make a pruning mistake, you may deprive yourself of flowers for a season, but you are still likely to get a few blooms.

The early spring time bloomers of Clematis Group 1 bloom on old wood and need only pruning to reduce their size or to remove damaged branches.

In Group 2 are the clematis that bloom in early summer. These bloom on both old and new wood. Most of the large-flowered hybrids are in this group. Prune them in the spring before new growth begins. Make your cuts just above the healthiest-looking buds. Next, cut out any tangles and damaged wood.

In Group 3 are clematis that flower from mid-summer well into fall. They bloom only on new wood and can be cut back hard in the spring to within 6 inches of the ground.

Clematis are heavy feeders need to be fertilizes regularly during the growing season, but remember to stop when they begin to bloom.

Classic companion plants for clematis include roses, evergreens, crape myrtles, and even other vines.

Clematis - You Can Grow That!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine.
Visuals by Taylor Calavetinos
Audio by Kathy Jentz

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