Clematis- A colourful Climber
By 250 News
Saturday, July 14, 2012 03:45 AM
A vine that is getting noticed this time of year is the Clematis.
Clematis vines are a deciduous vine that put on a beautiful display of flowers that are later followed by fluffy seed clusters giving it season long interest. There are many different varieties available with different bloom times, so by planting several different varieties with varying bloom times you could have continuous blooms throughout the summer.
Clematis are easy to grow and will grow quite successfully in the Prince George area if you choose hardy varieties (zone 3 or lower) and give them the right growing conditions. Have a place in mind before going out to buy a clematis because clematis have certain growing requirements. They like cool roots but need 5-6 hours of sun every day for the rest of the plant.
To give the plant cool roots, a mulch can be placed on the soil surrounding the base of the plant. Another solution would be to place a low growing perennial or shallow rooted shrub at the base of the plant. Moisture is important for a healthy, happy clematis so don't plant under an eaves or an area that does not receive sufficient moisture. On the other hand, the soil needs to be well drained as they don't like to be sitting in water either. Lastly clematis need something to climb on or trail over. Trellis, arbours, walls, or even old stumps such as the ones left over from beetle killed pine will work. Attaching string or netting to walls or stumps will give the clematis something to cling to.
To plant a clematis, first dig a large hole that is 45 cm deep and wide. Fill the bottom 15 cm of the hole with good compost and then put a layer of good quality soil on top of that. Sprinkle a handful of bonemeal in the hole and mix it in with the soil. Carefully take the clematis out of the container keeping the root ball intact as you don't want to disturb the roots. Clematis are one of the few plants that are planted deeper then they are in the pot. When it is placed in the hole, the top of the root ball should be 15 cm below the soil level of the hole. Fill in the hole with a good quality well drained soil up to the root ball leaving the first 15 cm of stem uncovered. The hole will be filled in throughout the season as the stem ripens.
A clematis is planted deep to give it added winter protection, and also if the plant dies back it will be able to grow back from below the ground level if attacked by the fungus, clematis wilt.
As soon as the clematis has been planted, place a trellis next to it for it to climb on and give it a good drink of water. Continue to water it throughout the season as it is needed being careful not to overwater.
Pruning a clematis is as simple as 'A-B-C' which are the three groups that clematis vines are placed in.
Group A, consists of those varieties that bloom on last season's wood and these are the early bloomers. They require very little pruning. Remove only the dead, or weak stems when the plant has finished blooming.
Group B are those varieties that bloom on both last season's and the current season's growth. This group can be broken down further to B1 consisting of those varieties that have one heavy flush of flowers followed later in the season by a smaller flush, and B2 which bloom continually throughout the summer. The weak and dead stems are pruned out in May, and you can also lightly clip the branches to various lengths to produce an even shaped plant. After clipping the stems the branches are then spaced out to make room for next years flowers.
The last group is group C, and these varieties bloom throughout the summer on the current season's growth. Group C varieties should be cut back to two sets of buds per stem from ground level in May because you want as much new growth as possible. If left unpruned they will only bloom on the top end of the plant where the new growth is and the bottom end of the plant will not have any flowers. The popular “Jackmanii” and “Viticella' are from group C.
When purchasing a Clematis make note of what group the clematis falls into. It should tell you on the label. If you have a clematis and know the name but are not sure what group it is, then go the garden centre where the staff can help you look it up.
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
· Highway 16 West at Kimball Road
· Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road
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