Taking care of your clematis: how to look after your plants, how to plant and how to cut back

How to look after your clematis
A clematis does not need much light. Like their wild counterparts they will do very well in the semi-shade areas of your garden, wrapping their leaf petioles around every obstacle in their way. These plants are an excellent choice to lead up against a wall, a fence or up vertical wires. Another option is to put the clematis next to a shrub or a tree and train it up or to use the plant as ground cover on a hillside.

A clematis will grow in any decent well draining type of soil. If your plan to put them in a sunny spot you do need to take care of the roots of the plant as clematis roots like moisture. You might want to plant a low shrub that keeps the sun off the roots. The rest of the plant does not need protection from the sun.

If you take a bit more care a clematis can also be planted in less than ideal places. You might for instance want to plant a clematis in a pot when you have a balcony or a small garden. Provided you add some fertilizer and carefully water the plant a clematis that does not grow very fast will do quite well in such circumstances. An example of such a clematis is Comtesse de Bouchaud.

Choosing a clematis
It is important to choose a good strong plant. Small and weak plants may come cheap but they will not flourish. A healthy clematis has many branches and has been grown in a 1,5 l pot. Such a plant is a good choice and will establish itself quickly in your garden. Bigger plants that have been grown in 2 or 3 liter pots will do well too of course but they are typically much more expensive. Most important is that the plant has a good strong root system and healthy main branches. These main branches do not have to be long, 8 to 10 cm is sufficient.

www.ClematisOnline.co.uk supplies all types of Clematis in 1,5 liter containers. The plants have a good root system, are well branched and supported by a 60 cm bamboo pole.

A clematis can be put in the ground from early spring to early winter, as long as there is no freezing period.
· Provide support (the bamboo pole will provide support only the first month or so after planting)
· You may want to consider planting a small shrub (e.g. Sarcococca Humilis) near the clematis to prevent the roots from losing too much moisture. It is not a good idea to put a roof tile over the base of the plant; this will result in a lack of moisture for the roots.
· Give the plant plenty of water. Repeat this after two days if the weather is warm and dry.

If you are planning to train your clematis up a wall, you should take care not to place the clematis immediately next to the wall but a little further away. This is especially important in case of a south facing wall as during the summer months the soil there will get too hot and too dry for a clematis plant.

Fertilizer will help your plants grow and will result in more flowers (a second flowering in case of some types of clematis). We sell a special fertilizer for climbing plants. On the package you can find detailed instructions as to how much fertilizer you should use and for which plant.

Pruning a clematis
Many people find pruning their clematis a complicated affair. However, if you remember how and when your clematis flowers you will probably find it a lot easier from now on. A clematis produces either flowers on wood that is a year old, or on the current season’s growth. A clematis that flowers before the end of June is almost always a clematis that flowers on last year’s growth. This then is a clematis that you do not want to prune back, at least not before it has flowered. You may of course want to prune it back afterwards. Also, all our clematis come with a label that gives specific pruning instructions and we offer more pruning advice on our website www.ClematisOnline.nl.

Evergreen clematis
Clematis Armandii is an evergreen clematis. Provided it is planted in a secluded spot the plant will retain its foliage in winter and produce flowers in March/May. If you are interested in scented flowers you may want to consider Clematis Armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ which produces lovely light pink fragrant flowers. If you are interested in an early flowering plant you may be more drawn to another type of evergreen clematis altogether: Clematis Snow Bells, another evergreen. This clematis flowers between the end of December to the end of Februari with small white bells.

Clematis Armandii orginates from China.

You may want to combine your clematis with other climbers such as Winter Jasmin, Akebia Quinata, honeysuckle, Wisteria or climbing roses. Evergreen Clematis Armandii also combines excellently with other clematis plants.