Clematis Crazy

The clematis is a popular plant. And it is easy to see why. Once you have discovered the elegant charms of this abundantly flowering, vigorous climber, you too will be clematis crazy

Clematis is an elegant climber, but it also does very well as a flowering ground cover plant. Clematis belongs to a large plant family, subdivided in groups that all flower at different times. There are small and large flowered clematis and they can also vary in height a lot. Some grow to about 2 metres while others can grow up to 8 metres, like the clematis 'montana'. Clematis will thrive almost anywhere. In the garden it likes a spot in half shade with its roots cool and moist at all times. It likes a well-prepared planting hole, comfortable and deep, filled with fertile soil.

  1. Dig the planting hole and pierce aeration holes in the walls. Press on the side of the pot using your foot and carefully pull the plant from the pot.
  2. Gently pull the bottom roots down while holding the root ball. Place the plant in the hole, about 6 cm deeper than it was in the pot.
  3. Water the plant in and fill the hole with fertile soil. Firm the soil around the roots with your hand and water well again.
  4. Put a layer of straw or leaves around the base of the plant to give the roots some shade. Remove the bamboo cane from the roots and replace it with a larger cane.

Clematis is not self-clinging despite its ranking shoots. The plant needs some climbing support. If you want to train your clematis against a wall, you can thread galvanised wire through screw eyes and stretch it (using turnbuckles). This will leave some space between the wall and the wire and allow the clematis to twist itself around the wire. Alternatively you can buy a wooden trellis from a shop. Use binding that does not cut into the shoots and leaves sufficient space for expansion, thick raffia, for instance.

Ideal for small gardens
The small flowered Clematis alpina is particularly suitable for small gardens as it does not grow too tall. The same goes for the large-flowered 'Miss Bateman', Clematis 'Nelly Moser' and Clematis 'Jackmanii'. Their compact shape also makes them suitable for large containers. A support, plenty of water and regular feeding are essential.

Clematis everywhere
A wooden pergola in the back of the border overgrown with clematis will create a lovely thick curtain.
A metal obelisk overgrown with several different clematis with different flowering times, will give you a perpetual flowering 'tree' anywhere you want, even free-standing in the garden.
A bare tree trunk also makes an excellent support for clematis and will decorate it with flowers. Ivy looks more cheery with colourful clematis growing in it. Or what about a combination of ivy, climbing rose and clematis.
There are so many different clematis, you can enjoy their flowers in your garden from spring to autumn.

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