Planting Clematis

If you have a wall or a fence in your garden that needs brightening up it might be worth considering planting a few clematis. Clematis are probably the most popular climbing plant around at the moment, thanks their beautiful flowers and to their ease and speed of growth. Because clematis will do well in large containers, they can also be used to cover up walls even if there if large foundations or a concrete path at its base.
   Now is the perfect time of year to plant clematis. Clematis love fertile well drained soil. When planting dig out a nice deep hole. Add well-rotted organic matter to the soil such as farm yard manure or multi-purpose compost. Having soaked the root ball in a bucket of water prior to planting, place the clematis in the hole ensuring that the top of the root ball is at least two inches deeper than it was growing in the pot. Planting clematis deeper in the ground like this will act as an insurance policy should the stems be damaged, as dormant buds on the lower stems will then produce shoots. Very often when planting clematis against walls you will find that you haven¬ít the depth of soil to do this. If this happens to be the case you can create the same effect by burying the lower two inches of the stems under a mulch of good quality compost. After planting water the plant thoroughly and prune the stems back to about twelve inches long to encourage new growth. These stems should then be attached to the supports. Clematis are plants that like to have cool roots so after planting it is usually a good idea to place a few large stones in front of the plant to create shade.
   While they are very easy plants to grow and will tolerate a certain amount of neglect, clematis are fairly greedy plants and to get the best out of them you will have to feed them occasionally. This can be done at the start of the growing season by applying a mulch of good quality compost mixed with slow release fertilizer to the soil at the base of the plant. To encourage really strong growth your clematis will also benefit from a number of liquid feeds throughout the growing season and especially after flowering. During dry periods your clematis may also require regular watering, especially if the plant is being sheltered from the rain by the fence or the wall that it is growing against.
© Copyright, Highland Landscapes, Letterkenny, 2008.