Growing Clematis Plants
There is a very large range of clematis available; there are large showy flowers, smaller subtle flowers, scented flowers, attractive seeds, evergreen clematis, large ones, small ones, and clematis that flower at all seasons of the year.
Added to this they are pretty easy to grow, just take in a few bits of advice and you should have no trouble.
All clematis like some sun, so deep shade is out. All clematis like to have cool roots, so if you can arrange for the roots to be in the shade, but the leaves in the sun that would be ideal if this doesnt work for you then simply mulch the root area, and some pale coloured stone on the top will reflect much of the heat away. Plant large flowered cultivars with the crown an inch or two below ground.
Next choose your clematis with care some are rampant and will quickly cover a pergola or tree stump or scramble up through a large tree, others never get very big and are ideal for use in containers or climbing up pyramids.
If you do want to grow in a container, use a loam based compost, not a general purpose one. Obviously add slow release fertiliser but you will still need to feed annually in spring and after flowering,, use a high potassium fertiliser, such as rose fertiliser, or even a specialist clematis fertiliser.
If slugs are a problem in your garden it would be good to discourage them with a stony mulch and this will also keep the roots cool. Aphids can occasionally be a problem, deal with them in the normal way. There is only one serious disease and that is clematis wilt; it affects the far reaches of the plant first, but will eventually kill the whole plant. This disease is rare and caused by a fungus, and generally only affects large flowered cultivars. No treatment is available, just cut back well beyond the affected parts and burn the part removed. If you plant large flowered clematis with the crown 50 mms (2 ins) below soil level, you will greatly increase the chances of survival by cutting back ton ground level.
In the next two blogs we will look at specific varieties of clematis and their characteristics and finally the pruning of clematis, which is simple once you get the basics.