Here’s HerbDoc again, writing about one of my favorite plants: clematis.
The bowers of the tiny white flowers of Autumn Clematis trailing over rock walls and trellises are gorgeous, but as a dear friend of DN’s and mine found it, after the enticing bloom comes disaster.
Every one of those irresistible white flowers produces seeds, and come next spring you’ll be wondering where all of that new clematis came from that’s all over your yard and the neighbor’s! Next you’ll be cursing what has become an invasive thug.
After researching an alternative, I settled on Clematis “Paul Farges.” Not many nurseries seem to carry this variety so I ended up buying mine via mail from Massachusetts. I had never purchased plants from this source before, but two sturdy, knee high vines arrived in short order and were very well packed. “Paul Farges” is also called “Summer Snow” and is a cross between C. fargessi and C. vitalba.
This cross is said to be strong, hardy and floriferous without the tendency to be invasive. It grows from 18 to 22 feet tall but is not dense. The flowers are creamy white, fragrant stars. This clematis blooms on new wood (a group III) so top growth can be cut back anytime between late autumn and early spring. I’m excited about adding “Paul Farges” to my perennial bed and will let you know how he performs!
I have one clematis, my first, and it did very well during the late winter and early spring. It’s a mess now. Any tips on keeping them happy?
Great advice from HerbDoc, but I have another thought. It is possible your clematis is suffering from clematis wilt, which makes the entire plant look dead. It is, in fact, dead above the ground, but under the soil at the crown, it’s still alive. The solution is to cut back the foliage and wait for new growth to emerge from the crown. Some cultivars are more susceptible to this than others.
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I did have a little of that and it scared me, but the plant survived. What are these vines supposed to look like when they’re not flowering? Big and lush, or do they die back? I read somewhere that they don’t like acidic soil. Have you found this to be true?
All clematis like their heads in the sun and their feet in the shade. As for pruning, it depends on what type it is; do you know its name or type? I have three on one trellis on one side of my deck that I bought at Wal-Mart at the end of one season long ago. I have no idea what they are so I wait for them to leaf out in the spring, then trim anything that looks like it died over the winter, and mulch them well. All three bloom every year…a single red, a double white and a huge single purple….all at different times in the late spring or summer.
CJ, you’re correct about the clematis soil; they like a pH of around 7. Here in the East we tend to be very acidic (my wood are 4.5!) so I have my soil tested periodically to make sure all is well. I also top dress with an inch or so of compost from my pile and put in a sprinkling of 10-10-10 or 10-20-20 fertilizer. Clematis are really pretty hardy souls and don’t require a lot of care. Sometimes they take more than a year to get established.