Clematis let me pretend for a brief moment that I live in Hawaii, or somewhere tropical! The exotic blooms are hard to match, and much loved and collected by many gardeners. This rambling vine can climb up a purposeful structure like a trellis or obelisk, or climb a small tree or shrub for added interest. As with so many of my favourite plants, there are many varieties of clematis, just part of what makes them collectible and addictive. There are spring, summer or fall bloomers, and even ‘re-bloomers’, that bloom in both spring and late summer. Clematis is demanding in its preferences: full sun but shaded roots, moist, rich, well-drained soil, and they don’t like winter winds. When planting, dig an extra 4-5” in depth and fill with rich soil, then plant with the root ball slightly above soil level and keep it moist until established. After planting, I often add stones or two bricks to protect the roots, but you can also use extra mulch, or plan for leafy perennials to shade the roots. Pruning is another key clematis topic, for which you need to understand your vine’s blooming habits. If your clematis blooms in spring on last year’s vines, then prune only dead and weak stems after blooming. If your clematis blooms on new growth in late spring or summer, then prune lightly to strong buds in early spring. If your clematis blooms late summer or fall, then prune back hard in early spring to above the first good buds. The extra care required, has always been worth the reward!
Technical stuff – Woody or semi-woody deciduous vine, blooms in spring, summer or fall, many colours and bloom variations, prefer full sun, don’t like winter winds and need to shade roots from heat, prefer moist, rich, well-drained soil.