Plant of the Month

November 2018

Clematis (Clematis spp.)

  • Type: Perennial Vine
  • Light: Sun/Part Shade
  • Water: Medium
  • Soil: Rich, Well-Drained
  • Height: 7-10 Feet
  • Width: 3-6 Feet
  • Flower: White, Pink, Deep Rose, Purple
  • Bloom Time: Spring, Summer, Fall

As a "newly-minted" Master Gardener, I am humbled by how little I know about successful gardening. My husband has been the gardener in our family, and I have enjoyed the results of his hard work and dedication - as his gardener's assistant.

I love clematis and am always thrilled by their lovely blooms! Growing clematis in our yard is one of the projects I have personally pursued, acquiring five different plants, based on how much I liked the picture on the tag - not a good method, as I have learned. Two bloom very nicely in the spring then dry up and look shabby, two are barely surviving, and the fifth has nice foliage but has never bloomed. Clearly a new strategy is required!

Having declared my method a failure, I made a plan informed by research and expert advice. There are about 300 species of clematis. All fall into one of three categories based on when they bloom: Group 1 blooms in spring; Group 2 blooms in early summer and then sometimes blooms again, and Group 3 blooms in late summer. Refer to https://empressofdirt.net, Clematis 101 Easy Care Guide for an excellent explanation and reference chart of the three types.

Understanding that all clematis need sufficient sun, plenty of water, well-drained soil, "cool feet" (mulch and shade), and appropriate fertilization, I will choose my plants based on bloom time, color, fragrance, attractiveness to pollinators, and evergreen foliage. My plan is to acquire two Clemantis armandii (evergreen and fragrant) and three other cultivars, in different colors. I will plant new vines in the early fall as recommended.

I anticipate it will take two full growing seasons to implement the plan. With luck, by spring of 2019, our yard will be overflowing with boisterous, colorful, pollinator-pleasing Clematis! – by R. Saczawa

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Blount County Extension Master Gardeners

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