Monday, January 25, 2010

The Mystery of Clematis

I see the grass again!  The Christmas lights can finally be removed from those expensive Chicagoland boxwoods. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, but I began thinking about clematis.  I have a lot of clematis for such a small property.  It takes up such a limited amount of garden space, I just keep adding more each year - I'm up to about eighteen.  I never knew much about clematis, just buying whatever color and size flower appealed to me.  Henryi really taught me everything I know now!  I loved that big white flower I saw on the package, but mine were always miniature versions of that!  When I moved to a new house I decided to try Henryi again on my arbor, and again after the first year, the flowers were much smaller than on the package.  So, finally I pulled out my plant encyclopedia and began reading about clematis.

As I read about all my other clematis' I realized they were all a type 3 (cut down to 6" every spring and they flower like crazy).  Henryi was from a different family, he was a type 2 (don't cut down, trim lightly) and you will get 6" to 8" huge white flowers.  I realized I even had a type 1 (Miss Bateman - just trim off any dead parts) that I had been cutting down each year with the result of very few blooms.

I now have all three types of clematis and my fear is that I will forget which is which.  This new found knowledge has prompted me to pay attention to which of my clematis require full sun like Rouge Cardinal and which can take part shade like Hagley Hybrid and Nelly Moser.

Clematis is easy if you follow the directions (a lesson learned late by me), check out the classification, either 1, 2 or 3 or A, B or C and prune accordingly.  New plants should be put in deeper than the pot they are in, cut back so they develop many shoots, not just a few spindly ones and feed lightly.  You won't get much the first year, but from each year after you should be rewarded with an abundance of beautiful flowers.,