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How to Grow and Care for Clematis

Written by Paige Vandiver

Clematis are stunning perennial vines that produce vibrant, bountiful blooms that twist and meander up and around a support with their delicate leaf stems. They are easy to grow if you take care while planting them and pruning them according to their specific variety.

Steps for planting clematis in Ohio (Garden Zone 6)

  • Choose the perfect spot. 

Clematis like to have sun on their leaves at least 6 hours per day to ensure they perform at their best. Choose a sunny spot where you’ll be able to provide them with a support such as a trellis . 

  • Prepare the soil. 

Dig a large planting hole and rough up the sides of the wall a bit so that the roots can easily expand. Clematis prefer rich, well drained soil, so adding some compost and sand to the soil can help achieve the desired result. Clematis also appreciate it if you add a handful bone meal to the soil, and may reward you with extra blooms. Plant your clematis a 1-2 inches below it’s crown and remove any existing leaves that will be covered by the soil to prevent rot. Backfill the hole and give her a good watering.

  • Provide support.

Clematis will need something to climb from the very beginning of planting. Since they use their leaf stems to twist and climb, you won’t want to use anything too thick as support. Some reliable options include a trellis, arbor, pergola, along a fence or post with wire mesh attached, or in a container with poles for smaller varieties.

  • Keep the soil cool.

Although the leaves of your clematis mostly prefer to be in the sun, the roots want to stay cool. After you are done planting, cover the ground around your clematis with mulch or plant a ground cover that will provide some shade.

  • Hydration and food are key.

Especially during the first season, it is imperative that you keep your clematis hydrated. They really do not tolerate extremely dry soil and on hot days they will need extra H20. Once growth begins, fertilize a few times per season with a water-soluble fertilizer.

  • Prune your clematis – but keep it simple.

There are three different groups of clematis, and you’ll want to prune them according to their type. Pruning ensures that you are reaching their maximum flower production. You could really get “into the weeds” and become overwhelmed if you are planting several different types of clematis with different pruning techniques, so it helps to keep it simple when choosing how many varieties of clematis you are planting together. 

Group 1 – Early bloomers that don’t require much pruning. Prune only to thin out the plant or remove dead wood.

Group 2 – Mid-season bloomers that appreciate a light pruning in early spring and a heavier pruning in early summer after the first blossoms are done.

Group 3 – Late-season bloomers that require an aggressive, easy pruning in late winter or early spring since any growth will be on new wood.

Common Nemeses of Clematis

There are a few common problems to be on the lookout for when caring for your clematis. The most common is clematis wilt, which is spread by spores – especially in areas of humid weather –  and can cause stem rot and leaf spots. Earwigs, aphids, snails and slugs are familiar pests to clematis. If you see grey-ish white substance on your plant, it may be affected by a fungal disease called powdery mildew. All of these problems can be controlled and eradicated if you keep a good eye on your clematis and treat the issues immediately.

Your Best Source For Flowers and Plants in Dayton, Ohio

We promise that the vibrant show that clematis will put on in your garden will be worth a little extra care and attention and Stockslagers is always here to help with any of your clematis concerns!

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