Your opinion on using this combo.

fingersoupJanuary 15, 2011

I've got a Veilchenblau and C. viticella 'Polish Spirit' ordered for this spring and I'm planing on training them up my front porch (based at the front left side of the porch in the picture). I'm going to plant them both directly behind the front left support beam - under the porch part instead of on the outside so the "feet" will be in the shade for the clematis and train them to wrap around and go up the front - or maybe the Clematis on the inside and the Veil on the outside if it would make a big difference?? Trying not to over think this.

Either way, I'm picking this combo because I think the color will go well with the house (bonus: my gf loves purple) and so that I'll get blooms in the spring throughout the summer.

Can anyone see any problems arising from this combo except a mangled mess when pruning? I would rather learn from other peoples experience then failure on this one. From Front Porch

From Front Porch

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Veilchenblau looks like a vigorous rambler and combined with the clematis, you likely will have a tangle to train and prune through.

I'd not plant "behind" - shade for clematis feet (which I'm not 100% sure is absolutely necessary having grown them successfully without true shade). I think rather than fixing the idea of shade in your mind, fix moisture instead. A layer of mulch will accomplish this along with regular watering until fully established.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 6:59PM
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I'd ask this question over on the clematis forum, since there are folks there who have quite a bit of experience with a wide variety of clematis.

Here is a link that might be useful: GW clematis forum

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 7:02PM
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Thanks duluthinbloomz4 - that is EXACTLY the type info I was looking for since I have never grown clematis myself and I am overloaded from all the info on the net. - I wanted to hear it 'from the horses mouth' so to say. Someone who has had experience with this.

So some good cypress mulch and then water-it-in the first season should be sufficient? Don't worry so much about the "feet in the shade" thing.

And thank you nhbabs, I will check that out - I wasn't sure where to post since it was a mixture of rose and clematis.

On a side note, has anyone mixed ramblers/climbers and vines together with any success?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 7:42PM
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Clematis and roses are a classic combo. You just need to be cognizant of which pruning group you select the clematis from, as that will simplify pruning chores. 'Polish Spirit' (and all other viticellas) are considered in pruning group 3 or "hard prune", so that makes things considerably easier :-) Just cut the clem back to about 18-24" in late winter/early spring each season.

The deal about 'feet in the shade' for clematis is a bit of an old wive's tale - clematis just need a deep, cool root run, so a generous planting hole and a good mulch will cover that issue. And they like the same sort of watering and fertilizing roses typically require - one of the reasons they make such successful planting companions.

I visit the Clematis forum often and I'd give you the same advice there :-)

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 9:06PM
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Haven't grown roses for years now. The rose forum would be better than internet overload, for sure. Clematis forum, too.

But Polish Spirit is a type 3 clematis - mainly flowers on new wood produced in the current year and should be pruned back every year in late winter, when they are completely dormant, to about 12 - 14 inches above the ground.

You will need a trellis or strings or netting for it to climb... clematis don't have tendrils like ivy; they have twirling leaf stems that loop around any support that's small enough for them to grasp.

Have always had the purple Jackmanii which is also a type 3. But being in zone 4, late winter generally still has a few feet of snow on the ground, so I prune the dead away as soon as I can get out in the yard and before any new growth is visible on the old stem. Hasn't done any harm.

Nice thick layer of mulch, regular watering - especially if normal rainfall isn't sufficient - for the first year or two (I'd go for 2 years minimum) and you should be good to go.

If the clematis forum people insist that you plant the feet in "shade" - fine, but you can provide a sun shade by simply planting something in front of it... a small variety of azalea (like a Gumpo) for instance.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 9:10PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

I'm not fond of purple, but I think you have made a good color choice for the house.

If I were contemplating this planting, here's what I would do:

Because this is so close to the house, I would dig out the soil to the depth of a foot or so. Builders sometimes (often?) fill the area near the foundation with construction debris such as pieces of concrete and wood; lunch debris, which may include cans, styrofoam, or aluminum foil; and other unexpected soil additives. What looks on the surface like soil may turn out to be 1/3 debris. At the very least, the concrete footers for the porch lessen the area for the plants' roots.

Concrete makes soil more alkaline. That may make the rose unhappy, or even the clematis. So I'd want to test the soil pH in that area and talk to someone who knows about the best pH for roses and clematis.


I also have some concerns about space and visibility:

You have a small porch. Is it really large enough for not one but two large climbing plants -- one with thorns? Plants can't tell what's the inside of the porch and what's the outside; be prepared to prune regularly.

To what extent will the clematis and rose obscure the view from the front door -- and obscure visitors' view of the front door? In some areas this might also be a security concern (Bad Guys hiding behind the plants while they pick the lock on the front door or lie in wait for a returning resident).

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 9:26PM
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Thank you both for sharing your wealth of knowledge/experience with this new grower.

You understand what I mean about information overload - a lot of it is conflicting or just cut n' pastes on sites with the sole purpose of advertisement revenue.. Who knows how accurate it is? It's frustrating.

I'm still a newbie so I'm unconventional in my approach. I research like crazy but still don't know what is 'faux pas' or acceptable. Most of the time I don't care - I do what I think looks good and learn from my mistakes. My favorite part of growing is experimenting but in an instance like this I wanted to run it by some experienced growers first so I don't end up with a couple of wasted growing seasons.

I wanted to make sure one wouldn't choke the other one out, incompatible soil/fertilizer needs or any other unforeseeable issues. I'm so thrilled that these guys will be appropriate together - I can't wait till spring!

I really like the idea of the azalea but I already have an ornamental grass Pennisetum 'Oceanside' in front of it (I needed some height in the design on that corner) so I hope that should be sufficient for shade and I plan on digging in some mushroom dirt with the local TN topsoil and clay about a foot to a foot and a half deep. gardengal48, Do you think that is deep enough? I've got a source for some awesome cypress mulch that I will use. (It smells strongly like cinnamon for a few weeks - really cool.)

What does your fertilizing schedule look like? What type would both these guys enjoy? Would it be ok to fertilize the first year?

Having never grown clematis before, I had no idea about the twirling leaf stems - I was thinking more like ivy. With that in mind, I'm thinking I will tack some fine mesh around the post and tying where needed.
Do you think that I can get away with leaving a little more than typically suggested (the part I've got established on the mesh, maybe 4 to 4 1/2 feet) when pruning?

I should be good to go pruning the Veil at the same time - around February?

Thanks again for the input.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 11:03PM
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I can't help much with fertilizing - I don't fertilize anything. Well, a dose of Miracle-Gro on some annuals when I remember, but on the perennial gardens just a top dress of home made compost in the fall. I do very little supplemental watering; lucky to get adequate regular rain here - plus summers are mild, no blistering heat or humidity. Things grow as expected even in our comparably short season.

For clematis you wouldn't go wrong using a water soluble fertilizer a couple of times early in the growing season. Nothing is easier to use and more water soluble than your basic box of Miracle-Gro granules. I'm sure there's a more expensive product people swear by, though.

Mesh will work to train - just make sure the mesh isn't flush against the posts so the leaf stems can get behind to twirl around.

And the Pennisetum is fine since gardengal48 and I both seem to be of the mind that "shade" as regards to clematis can be accomplished with a good mulching.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 11:56PM
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missingtheobvious, very good point. I'm not too hot on the purple either but I have a couple reasons for choosing it..

My girlfriend is moving away from her family to live here and she really really loves purple. I'm not going to tell her about the color and when it blooms - I think it will be a nice surprise. I figured I can compromise especially with my 2 crosvine species going in on the back deck. Those are more my speed as far as coloring. She can enjoy the front and the back will be my hangout.

With the light blue shutters, light blue door and I have some purpleish ornamental grasses & cane in the front - I think it will go with the color scheme. (I hope)

With the "landfill" issue - I know what you mean. My whole yard is like that. Broken glass, hard clay, gravel and rocks, nails, scraps of timber, concrete chunks, more rocks and you name it.. I think they built the house and just threw some seed and straw on the yard and that was it.

By dumb luck I've found a local trucking company that sales feed, gravel, mushroom dirt, boulders, all kinds of mulch and soil mixes so I have brought literally tons of material in and will have to with this as well. =/
The only plus is it's reasonable if you haul it yourself and it's good exercise unloading it all. I definitively couldn't afford buying it by the bag.

I'll have to look up the Ph for these guys and make sure to check that out. Who knew it could be so complicated?

And very good point about the visibility. I didn't think about that - that is why I wanted everyone's input. I'm a huge fan of function over form. They will NOT go above the top of the hand railings and the Veil should be safe as far as thorns go.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 12:08AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

fingersoup, no worries about the blue and purples together. Not to my taste, but they do look good together, and I'm sure she'll appreciate the surprise.

What a pity you had so much garbage in your yard, and good for you for fixing it! My big experience was as a college student trying to grow veggies in two narrow beds along the foundation of my parents' brand new house; by the time I'd pulled out all the chunks of concrete (as well as other things I don't remember), the soil was quite thin, and we never thought of buying bagged soil. My current property is fairly clean, though I find glass in the bed I made in the front lawn, about 20' from the road (once an entire ancient small Coke bottle). There are a couple of spots in the pasture where I suspect someone washed out the container in which they mixed a load of cement, but that and glass pieces from a broken window (safety glass, luckily) are the worst.

I'm glad you'll keep your climbers below the railing. They should make a good curtain to hide the space below the porch and stairs.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 1:45AM
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Neither the rose nor the clematis is particularly concerned about soil pH, so that is not an issue I'd worry about unless your soil is skewed heavily either way. The deep planting hole sounds just about right. Unlike just about any other plants, it is recommended that the planting hole for clematis should be big, deep and well amended. Typically you will see instructions for a hole about 18"x18" enriched with whatever organic matter/compost you might have on hand. You will need to mound the soil up a bit in the center of the hole before planting, but clems like it deep. The other, important instruction is that the vine be planted 4-6" deeper than it was in the nursery container. This causes the vine to develop a sturdy root system faster as well as to push additional stems from the root crown - when young, these stems on clematis are extremely brittle and vulnerable to damage so the more you have, the less the vine is likely to experience incidental damage. Plus it is always more desirable to have multiple stems rather than just one.

Both of these plants are considered heavy 'feeders' and should be fertilized on a pretty routine basis to develop the profusion of flowers they are known for. If you research the Clematis forum you will most often see references to either a fert forumlated for roses or tomatoes and other vegetables - either will work as they concentrate on the nutrients that produce flowers or fruit. Typically the first application coincides with pruning in late winter/early spring (when the forsythia is blooming) and then every 6-8 weeks after that throughout the bloom season. I prefer to use organic fertilizers whenever possible and they tend to be slower acting so application may only be 2-3 times a year.

In my old garden, I didn't use any prepared fertilizer at all but mulched everything with compost. I also had bunnies as pets and bunny poop is an excellent fertilizer for both roses and clematis and I applied liberally - I grew a LOT of clematis. Bunny poop is typically only partially digested alfalfa and alfalfa or alfalfa meal is highly recommended by rosarians and clematis growers as well :-)

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 10:02AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

The rose has a strong preference for acidic soil. It's a multiflora rambler, and anything with that species background can get wildly chlorotic with a pH over 7. Depending on where you are, this may or may not be a problem. Clematis are said to prefer a higher pH, but I don't have any personal experience about what exactly that means.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 11:26AM
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Well, the nursery didn't follow the instructions on the "special shipping instructions" where I asked them to hold the order until spring... so they are here. Actually, they were being held at the post office but anyhooo.. Just a part of the joys of ordering online I guess.

Either way, they all look really well - better than most plants that I have had shipped to me during the summer months - except the clematis. The top of the clematis was smashed and withering so I cut off the dying part to a little above the first bud (it's already budding). From Drop Box From Drop Box

- thanks again everyone for the advice and tips. I will update this later in the fall with pics.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 2:00PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

You want to prune the Polish Spirit down really low every year because it only blooms on new growth. You'll end up with bare brown stems for four feet and then leaves and flowers above if you prune to four feet. I prune mine to a foot or less.

When you plant it in the garden make sure you bury it deeper than it is in the pot. You want vines to come up from the roots to make a fuller plant.

See how the pruning has pushed growth in your picture? Pruning is great for Clematis.

Polish Spirit is a long blooming gorgeous dark purple. I can't wait until mine matures.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 3:16PM
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Is that the clematis in the smaller terra cotta colored pot next to the rose in the first photo? If so, that is NOT 'Polish Spirit' but rather Clematis armandii, an early bloomimg evergreen species (usually white) that is only marginally hardy in zone 7. 'Polish Spirit is fully deciduous and should be pretty much dormant right now, unless greenhouse grown. And the leaves - if any - will look very different from what is showing in the first photo.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 6:37PM
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barb422(z6 UT)

Veilchenblau blooms once a season in spring, so you don't want to hard prune it in Feb.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 4:55PM
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