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Clematis montana var. Rubens Clematis macropetala `Blue Bird' Clematis macropetala `Markhams Pink'
Mid-summer into fall
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Clematis hybrids Clematis texensis `Dutchess of Albany' Silver Lace Vine (Polygonum aubertii) Schizophragma hydrangeoides Clematis paniculata
Long season, spring to autumn
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Passion Flower Vine (Passiflora sp.) Clematis recta Clematis tangutica-- blooms once in the spring and often again in the fall Clematis viticella kermesina
Clematis are hot but keep 'em cool
Clematis are becoming more and more popular with gardeners and as a result many more varieties are available in the nurseries. Here's how to keep Clematis healthy and colourful and always looking their best in your garden.
Ten years ago, clematis enthusiast and member of the International Clematis Society, Peter Keeping, couldn't find a single clematis plant at his local nursery. Now, even a national grocery chain offers a wide range of these colourful climbers, and gardeners across the country are clamouring for clematis. Here are Peter's growing tips for successfully growing these flowering vines. 1. When planting a clematis, it's important to bury the crown of the plant at least two inches (6 cm) below the surface of the ground to encourage more stems to grow from the base. The more stems the plant grows the faster the coverage and the less susceptible the plant becomes to disease. Remove any leaves that grow beneath the soil level. If the plant is very young (grown in a two inch (6 cm) pot or smaller), bury the plant deeply, but keep soil away from the stems until autumn. Then, build up the level of the soil with compost or good topsoil when the stems have seasoned. At the bottom and around the sides of the planting hole, Peter adds bonemeal which breaks down slowly, providing nutrients to clematis roots by the time they've grown into the planting hole. Finally, Peter stresses that newly planted clematis need water, water, water. So, water deeply and
frequently until the plant is established. 2. Clematis absolutely damand good drainage. If water stands on the surface of the planting hole, your soil needs to be amended to provide better drainage. Either add sand to the soil, or line the bottom of the hole with a layer of gravel. 3. Clematis roots need to keep cool. Peter likes to plant a largeleaved hosta at the base of his clematis. The hosta leaves shade the roots of the clematis, keeping them cool and happy. Any ground cover plant also will serve the purpose, but Peter prefers hosta because their roots are shallow and won't compete for nutrients with the deeply buried roots of the clematis. If a ground cover just won't work in your situation, Peter also recommends shading the base of the plant with patio stones or flagstones. 4. To encourage good flowering, Peter recommends sprinkling superphosphate onto the surface of the soil at planting time. For mature plants, add superphosphate once in the spring and again in June. Your clematis will thank you with lots of colourful blossoms. 5. Finally, prune judiciously. If the stems of very young plants seem thin, pinch them back to just above a set of buds. This causes the stems to "thicken up", making them tougher and more resistant to damage. It also encourages the plant to produce more stems, and as we noted above, more stems means faster coverage and greater disease resistance. Although it's difficult for someone who grows over 100 varieties of clematis to pick favourites, Peter loves the double white blooms of 'Arctic Queen', the medium blue of 'Elsa Spath', and the pure white blossoms of 'Duchess of Edinborough'. He also mentions two spectacular plants, especially good for larger spaces -- the autumn blooming Clematis paniculata which thrives even in half shade, and the very fragrant "old man's beard" Clematis vitalba which almost overwhelms the Keepings' mulberry tree. Two very tough clematis that Peter recommends, especially for colder regions of the country are Clematis x jackmanii and C. Tangutica. The latter is very freeflowering, with nodding yellow blossoms which bloom from July to September. The jackmanii clematis is an old reliable climber, easily growing to three metres with large, deep purple flowers.
Clematis have a reputation for being difficult to grow, however, like any other plant, if their needs can be met by the site and proper care, they will thrive. Clematis require full sun to grow best (6+ hours direct sun per day) though some dappled shade during the heat of the day is beneficial. Flowers of some red and blue large-flowered hybrids and the bicolors fade badly if they get too much sun (such as 'Nelly Moser,' 'Hagley Hybrid' and 'Hybrida Sieboldiana') and these should be planted in eastern exposures or partial shade. The site should be open enough to allow for air movement around the plants. Soil should be rich and well-draining with a pH close to neutral (7.0). Though the plant's stems and foliage should be in sun, the roots like a cool, moist environment. With the exception of C. montana, clematis do not compete well with large tree roots. Most clematis will require staking so the twining leaf petioles can cling and climb upward, though some gardeners choose to let the plants sprawl over the ground, over woodpiles, other plants, etc.
Begin with a soil test to determine if the soil pH or the phosphorus level needs correction. If so, make corrections before planting. Soil in the planting area should be prepared to a depth of 24 inches in an area approximately three feet wide. It is best to incorporate one-third by volume some compost or rotted manure to help improve aeration and drainage.
Consider the ultimate size and vigor of the clematis being grown and match this to the support needed. Some support should be provided for vines unless they are left to scramble over walls, small trees or shrubs, or to sprawl over groundcover beds or grass. Supports must be thin and wire-like since this plant climbs by twining petioles that cannot grasp thick branches or heavy trellising. If growing clematis on a wall or fence, string galvanized or plastic coated wire to form six- to twelve-inch squares. Fasten this to the wall with eye bolts three to four inches from the wall to allow for ventilation and space for the vine to twine. Latticework or trellises can also be used if placed a few inches from the wall for ventilation and if large enough to support the vine. Poles can also be used for supporting smaller, less vigorous vines; these are isolated vertical features often surrounded by lower growing herbaceous plants. Arbors and pergolas are suitable for the larger, more vigorous types of clematis.
Plants are readily available in garden centers and through catalogs for spring planting, though they may also be available for fall planting. Catalogs may offer a greater selection of species and cultivars than are available locally. Clematis are most often container-grown as they do not withstand much root disturbance. The species and small-flowered hybrids have fibrous roots that are susceptible to root damage; disturb roots as little as possible. Plants may also be available bare root. These should be obtained in early spring and planted while still dormant. Select plants that have multiple stems, healthy, dark green growth and a root system that fills the container. If beginning with small plants, consider growing them in gallon pots during the summer in order for them to gain some size. Fertilize these plants through the season and plant them in the ground in the fall. Early September is a good time to plant to allow for good root establishment before freezing weather.
Planting and Establishing
After amending the native soil for planting, dig a hole to accomodate the root system. Cut stems back to 12 inches in height. This will help the plant branch as it begins to grow and will reduce the chance of stem breakage during the planting process. Clematis are planted with the crown one to two inches below the soil surface (this enables the plant to recover should it be mowed off, damaged by animals or infected with clematis wilt). Once the plant is in the hole at the proper depth, fill in with the backfill soil, firm and water well to settle soil around the root system. If planting bare root plants, soak the roots in a bucket of water for an hour before planting to fully hydrate them. After planting, place a protective collar of hardware cloth or chicken wire around the base of the plant to protect against damage from mowers, string trimmers and animals. Because clematis prefer a cool root environment, plan to underplant with a groundcover or perennials that have shallow, non-invasive roots. Artemisia 'Silver Mound,' hardy geraniums, creeping phlox, coralbells, candytuft and most veronicas work well. A two-inch layer of mulch, low shrubs, or paving also provides a cooler root environment. Clematis may seem a bit slow to establish. In the first season, there may be little growth and few or no blooms. However, it is important to get the roots well established. Fertilize annually for rapid growth during
establishment with a 3:1:2 or 4:1:2 ratio fertilizer. Apply one-half pound of a 15-5-5 fertilizer to the soil in the 50 square feet surrounding each plant. Fertilization may not be needed or desired once the plant is established and growing well. Plants will need about one inch of water per week during the growing season applied through irrigation or rainfall for good establishment.
Once the plant is well established, some basic care is needed on an annual basis. In dry seasons, watering deeply once a week is recommended. Renew mulch to a two-inch depth in late spring after the soil has warmed unless a groundcover or other method is used to cool the root environment.
Clematis can be transplanted in the fall, late winter or very early spring before growth begins. Dig as large a root ball as is possible (make sure soil is moist); the more roots preserved, the less the transplanting process will hinder the plant's growth. Make sure all the site requirements are met in the new location before moving any plant.
The main purpose in pruning is to help plants produce the maximum number of flowers. Annual pruning is recommended. Sometimes older, neglected plants can be cut back into older wood and new buds may break. Growth from old wood will likely be weak and slow, however. If no pruning were done at all, plants would still grow and flower profusely, though not where you may want them to. Some flowering would occur high in the plant and out of sight. Not all clematis can be pruned in the same way. There are three methods that can be applied to major groups depending on the time of year the plant flowers. No new growth must occur to enable the earliest flowering clematis to bloom, but the later flowering types must make new growth in order for flower buds to form. A few plants are not strictly bound to the following groups but may cross lines. Because vines will likely be entangled, make cuts carefully among the intertwining vines and spread and train them in various directions in order to cover the maximum possible area. This enables the plant to display its blooms rather than be bunched up. Group A: Early-flowering Clematis Plants in this group bloom in early spring, generally in April and May, from buds produced the previous season. Prune these back as soon as possible after bloom but no later than the end of July. This allows time for new growth to produce flower buds for the next season. Remove shoots that have bloomed. You can prune out more vines to reduce the size or to form a good framework of branches. Do not cut into woody trunks. Plants in this group include: C. alpina, C. macropetala, C. armandii, C. montana and C. chrysocoma. Group B: Large-flowered Hybrids Large-flowered hybrids bloom in mid-June on short stems from the previous season's growth and often again in late summer on new growth (these blooms are smaller). Prune in February or March by removing dead and weak stems, then cut back remaining stems to the topmost pair of large, plump green buds. This cut could be a few inches to a foot or two from the stem tips. Plants in this group have the tendency to become bare at the base as they mature. Underplant to help conceal the stems. You may be able to force a flush of new growth from the base by cutting the vine back to 18 inches immediately after the flush of bloom in June. Plants in this group include:
'Nelly Moser,' 'Miss Bateman,' 'Lasurstern,' 'Duchess of Edinburgh,' 'Mrs. Cholmondeley' and others. Group C: Late-flowering Clematis Plants in this group flower on the last two to three feet of the current season's growth. Some types begin blooming in mid-June and continue into the fall. This is the easiest group to prune since no old wood needs to be maintained. In February or March cut each stem to a height of about two to three feet. This will include removal of some good stems and buds. Eventually the length of the bare stem at the base will increase as the vine matures. Plants in this group include: C. viticella, C. flammula, C. tangutica, C. x jackmanii, C. maximowicziana, 'Perle d'Azur,' 'Royal Velours,' 'Duchess of Albany' and others.
Homeowners may have success propagating clematis by cuttings or layering. All types can be increased by cuttings taken in May or June from half-hardened shoots of the current season's growth. Use a rooting mix of two parts sand and one part peat and a rooting hormone (available at garden centers). Supply high humidity, warmth and light in order for the cuttings to root within four to five weeks. The large-flowered hybrids will take more time to root; if cuttings are taken in May, they may not root until late August. If rooted by early August, plant them out. If no rooting occurs until late August, hold plants over winter in pots and plant in early spring. Layering is the easier method and can be done in the fall. Choose a mature stem produced earlier in the season, or from the previous season's growth. Secure it into the soil at the nodes or bury a pot containing a mixture of equal parts sand and peat and secure the stem into this. Rooting occurs within about 12 months at which point the rooted sections can be detached and planted.
The most devastating problem of clematis is a fungal stem rot and leaf spot caused by the fungus Ascochyta clematidina and commonly called "wilt." This is a disease on large-flowered hybrids. Small-flowered hybrids and the species and their cultivars are less susceptible to wilt. Symptoms include a sudden stem collapse typically as the flower buds are about to open, and within a few days, the stem and leaves turn black. Only one or perhaps several stems in a plant may wilt. The stem discolors and may exhibit lesions below the first pair of wilted leaves. Any part of the plant can be attacked down to and just below the soil level. The usual treatment is to remove the diseased stem below the wilted section, even below soil line. Plants usually recover from buds lower on the stem. Powdery mildew is another fungal disease that can occur on flowers and young stems, usually in July and August. It should be treated with a fungicide when first noticed as the fungus can disfigure leaves and flower buds, causing them not to open. Mildew often occurs on plants in poorly ventilated locations. If this is the case, consider moving the plant. Aphids may feed early in the season on new growth. Slugs may attack newly planted plants or even feed on bark of young stems. Earwigs may feed on blooms and foliage or bore into unopened flower buds. Rabbits and mice may feed on or girdle stems. Birds may feed on overwintering buds.
Selected Species and Cultivars
Species and Small-flowered Types
C. alpina-6 to 8 feet in height, blooms April-May. Flowers on long stalks, 1.5 inches nodding, bell-shaped flowers, lavender or purple-blue in color. Seed heads are grey fluffy balls holding until winter. Hardy, fool-proof plant. Group A pruning. C. alpina 'Candy'-6 to 8 feet in height, blooms April-May. Blooms have light pink outer sepals, pastel pink inner; stamens are green. Group A pruning. C. armandii-15 to 30 feet in height, blooms April-May. Two-inch diameter blooms, creamy white in large axillary clusters; has a strong vanilla scent in warm weather. Strong, vigorous grower. Group A pruning; can cut to base to rejuvenate vine. C. chrysocoma-20 feet in height, blooms May-June. Long stalked flowers 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter occur in axillary clusters; pale mauve-pink with creamy stamens. Some bloom occurs in late summer. New foliage is bronze-red. Group A pruning. C. flammula-15 to 20 feet in height, blooms August-September. Flowers occur in terminal clusters in great masses; are 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter, white. Grown from seed so growth can be variable. Group C pruning. C. macropetala-To 15 feet in height, blooms April-May. Flowers are double, nodding bells, 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter, pale blue with purple shading. Seed heads last into winter. Foliage is neat and attractive; plants prefer cooler, shady location. 'Snowbird' is pure white with a hint of green on inside of bloom. Group A pruning. C. maximowicziana-To 30 feet in height, blooms in September. Flowers are 1.5 inches in diameter, cruciform, white. Very vigorous grower. Group C pruning. C. montana-20 to 30 feet in height, blooms May-June. Flowers are white, 2 to 2.5 inches in diameter and some cultivars have a vanilla scent. One of the easiest to grow and propagate; very vigorous. Group A pruning. C. tangutica-10 to 15 feet in height, blooms July-October. Most common yellow flowered form. Flowers are 1 to 1.5 inches in length and nod on a long stalk, singly or three to a stem. Seed heads are spectacular, lasting into winter. Group C pruning. C. viticella-10 to 12 feet in height, blooms July-September. Flowers slightly nod, are 1.5 to 2.5 inches borne singly or in clusters on a slender stalk; rich deep purple with small green stamens. Vigorous and easy to grow. Group C pruning. 'Abundance' is bright mauve-pink red with deeper red veins and creamy green stamens. 'Etoile Violette' has slightly larger blooms that are deep purple with creamy-yellow stamens.
'Barbara Jackman'-8 feet in height, flowers May-June. Vigorous, bushy plant. Flowers are 4 inches in diameter, deep purplish-blue with bright magenta bar and large, creamyyellow stamens. Fades to mauve-blue. Group B pruning. 'Comtesse de Bouchard'-6 to 8 feet in height, flowers July-August. Easy to grow, prolific bloomer; a good plant for smaller spaces. Flowers are 4 to 6 inches in diameter, pink with creamy stamens. Group C pruning. 'Hagley Hybrid'-8 feet in height, flowers June-September. Flowers are 4 inches in diameter, pale mauve pink, fading to a washed out pink. Stamen filaments are white and anthers purple-red. Vigorous grower. Group B/C pruning. C. x jackmanii-8 to 10 feet in height, blooms July-August. Flowers are 4 to 5 inches in diameter and deep bluish-purple. Free flowering. Group B pruning. 'Marie Boisselot'-8 to 12 feet in height, flowers June-September. Opening flower buds are flushed with lilac-pink, flowers are 8 inches in diameter, white with creamy stamens. Strong grower. Group B pruning. 'Mrs. Cholmondeley'-20 feet in height, flowers May-October. A "foolproof" plant. Blooms are light lavender blue, paler along the midrib, filaments white and anthers brown. Group B/C pruning.
'Nelly Moser'-8 to 10 feet in height, flowers May-June and September. Flowers are 8 inches in diameter, pale rosy mauve with a central carmine colored midrib; dark maroon anthers. Flowers will fade badly in full sun; provide some shade for this plant. Group B pruning. 'Niobe'-8 feet in height, flowers June-September. Cup shaped bloom opens dark ruby-red then turns to bright ruby red with cream stamen. First flowers are 6 inches in diameter, later ones 4 inches in diameter. Moderate grower with some bloom throughout the season. Group B/C pruning. 'Perle d'Azur'-16 feet in height. Flowers continuously early summer to mid-autumn. Blooms are 4 to 6 inches in diameter, sky blue with green stamens. Group B pruning. 'Vyvyan Pennell'-8 feet in height. Flowers June and September. Flowers are 6 to 8 inches in diameter, double at first, single later. Deep violet-blue blooms suffused with purplered; golden stamens. Group B pruning.
Can you remember pressing brightly colored leaves between sheets of waxed paper to preserve their colors? It's one of those experiences of life that no one should miss. Here's how you do it. Place autumn-colored leaves between two layers of wax paper. Cover with an old towel or cloth rag. Press the fabric with a warm iron, sealing the wax paper together with the leaf in between. Cut your leaves out, leaving a narrow margin of wax paper around the leaf edge.
I used a fairly low heat setting while doing this with my kindergarteners. I also put the waxed paper on a paper bag to keep the wax from soaking into the ironing board while fusing the layers. Just a light touch for a couple of seconds would do it. I took this a bit further and several years ago tore some delicate petals off some of my flowers and herbs and pressed them between the waxed paper...I used larger sheets so that I could use them as WRAPPING PAPER... The results were wonderful and in fact, every gift I wrapped in this manner... well the recipients just loved it! I call my paper ... PETAL PAPER..... Also, after my son's wedding, my daughter-in-law wanted me to "dry" some of her flowers from her boquet... Instead of drying them I took some of the petals off arranged them appropriately and pressed them between the waxed paper... placed in a frame and voila.... an instant keepsake. You iron OVER the leaves. When you iron you will do so over the entire surface of the waxed paper. The wax needs to be pressed on to the leaves to preserve them. I would also have the kids sprinkle fine glitter on the first sheet with the leaves before we ironed on the final layer. Here are the complete yet simple instructions. They go one further by adding crayon shavings for more color. http://www.makingfriends.com/leafsuncatcher.htm
Of course that's the old-fashioned way of doing things. You can preserve fall leaves in your microwave oven. Choose fresh leaves with the brightest colors. You don't want fallen leaves that have already started to dry. Take separate leaves or small twigs and place them in the oven on top of two pieces of paper toweling. Cover them with one sheet of paper toweling. Run the oven for 30 to 180 seconds. The drier the leaves, the less time they will need. Observe caution, as you could start a fire in your microwave if they "cook" too long. Be attentive. Leaves that curl after removal, have not been dried enough. Leaves that scorch, have obviously been left in too long. Let the leaves dry for a day or two and then finish the leaves with a sealant, such as an acrylic craft spray. You may get even better results if you use the microwave and silica gel for drying. Place a 1.25 inch layer of floral silica gel in the bottom of a cardboard box. Place the leaves lying flat. Leaves should not touch and should be at least 1.25 inches away from the sides of the box. Cover the leaves with a 1.25-inch layer of gel. Place the
uncovered box in the microwave. You want the microwave to operate at about 200 to 300 watts so if your microwave has 2-10 settings operate it at level 4. If the oven only has three to four settings, it should be set at half. If your oven has a high to defrost options, set the microwave on defrost. Estimated drying time is 2.5 minutes if you're using a half pound of gel and about 5 minutes if using two pounds of gel. Yet another way to preserve the leaves is to submerge them in a solution of glycerin and water. Use a mixture of one part glycerin to two parts water. Place the mixture in a flat pan, and totally submerge the leaves (in a single layer) in the liquid. You'll have to weight them down to keep them submerged. In about two to six days they should have absorbed the liquid and be soft and pliable. Remove them from the pan and wipe off all the liquid with a soft cloth. Done correctly, the leaves will remain soft and pliable indefinitely. So take some time with the children in your life and go out and collect some of the treasures of fall. It's something they'll remember for the rest of their life... I know I have.
My mother had a trick she used to preserve the color in fall foliage leaves, and I have since seen this technique suggested in old folk formula books. It really works, and the leaves stay on the branches and keep their color for weeks. I'm happy to share this tip, and use it myself. Here is her secret:
All you need is a little bit of vegetable glycerin, water, and newly cut branches with colorful leaves. Just put about 1/2 a teaspoon into a vase full of water, stir, and then add the branches. With this, the leaves stay on the branches and keep their color for weeks. Refresh the water and glycerin every week. Pure vegetable glycerin is available in health food stores.
Wax Paper Take the leaves and place them between two paper towels. Dry one side of the leaves by ironing them for 10 minutes, on medium heat without steam (move iron continuously). Then turn the leaves over and using a fresh paper towel, repeat process for about 5 minutes. Now take the dried leaves and place them in-between two sheets of waxed paper, waxy side against the leaves. Add another sheet of waxed paper to protect the iron and press them again for a minute or so, until the leaves are coated with wax. Now, peel off the waxed paper and see how the leaves have become beautifully preserved. Microwave Try drying your leaves in the microwave oven, by placing them between double layers of paper towels. Start with 30 seconds and continue until the leaves are completely dry (please use caution as leaves can catch on fire.) Glycerin We found two ways of using Glycerin to preserve leaves, the first is to place the leaves in a flat pan in a single layer, then cover with a mixture of one part glycerin
and two parts water. Then weight the leaves down to keep them submerged for 2-6 days. Remove the leaves and dry with paper towels. The second way is to bring the mixture of 1 part glycerin and 2 parts water to a boil in a saucepan. Pour the mixture into a heat-proof container and submerge a few leaves. Keep in a dark, cool place until the leaves begin to change color slightly. Remove the leaves and dry with paper towels.
On fall walks, go leaf collecting. Be selective. Often the most stunningly colored fall leaves are still dangling off of the trees branches while leaves on the ground may be muddy and already brittle. Procure a variety of leaf colors, sizes and categories. Bring a bag along for safe transport of your bounty and in the spirit of being a good neighbor, get permission before collecting leaves on someone else's property. Once home, pour out a cup of your favorite steamy beverage (hot buttered cider...Mexican chocolate with chile pepper...orange cinnamon chocolate...?) spread out your leaves of gold, purple, russet, and red and begin the simple exercise of waxing autumns leaves to preserve a bit of falls elusive colors. Now what tree was that? Waxed Fall Leaves Supplies:
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Selection of Fall Leaves Iron Newsprint or Newspaper Foam plate Liquid floor wax (from the supermarket) Blow dryer Waxed Paper Tree identification book Apple Cider
Sandwich your gathered leaves between sheets of newspaper. With an iron set to medium press leaves slowly to flatten them out a bit. Pour out enough floor wax to cover the bottom of a disposable foam plate or foam meat tray. Dip leaf one at a time into the wax. Turn over and dip the other side. Remove from liquid wax, shake once, and let leaf drip. Lay out each waxed leaf to dry on waxed paper. (A hand held blow dryer set on low can speed the dry time).
When dryed a bit, repeat each leaf to the dipping process. This second coat of wax will render the leaves as smooth as your favorite pair of broken-in leather boots!
Pad over to the kitchen, pour a cup of that yummy hot drink and over a good tree identification book, or an informative related website spend a lazy afternoon documenting the beautiful waxed fall leaves in your collection. My neighbor and I dipped leaves in melted wax, and they are still beautiful after several years. I wouldn't recommend for kids to do this as they could get burned with the hot wax, but it works great.
Jean 1: Can you use regular candle wax to preserve the leaves? Jean We used the same wax that you use to seal jelly jars. Just melt over a low heat, dip T and it dries almost instantly.
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