Can I ask about Clematis?

harmonypMay 28, 2012

Seems I've seen many posts on this forum about using Clematis as a companion plant for roses. I've been looking at the Clematis at local nursaries for a while know - have been so close to buying a few, but they look so fragile and all I can think when I see them is - that is definitely something I will kill.

How easy (or not) are they to grow? I have uses for them in full sun with roses, and in filtered shade on fence lines. Are they good for either / both purposes? Thank you.

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jacqueline9CA

I am also in zone 9 in No Cal, so my experience may be of some relevance to you. Over the years I have planted many clematis in my garden, several in the shade, and some in full sun. All of the ones in the shade disappeared after a year or two. Several of the ones I planted in full sun at the bottom of roses have survived. One I planted in partial shade has leaned out sideways to try and get more sun. They say that the roots need to be shaded, but that is not a problem in my yard at the bottom of big roses.

One other thing - all of the catalogues and books I have about clematis go into a VERY confusing long explanation about the three (or is it two? ) different types of clematis, and how you must prune them every year, and you must prune them in completely different ways depending on what type they are. This may all be true, but it was WAY too complicated for me. I have not pruned the successful clematis in my garden at all, ever, no matter which "type" they were, and they have all been growing happily for several years. Next Winter I will probably chop one back, but that is just because it has gotten completely out of hand.

Here are two pictures of a large, velvety purple clematis I love (no, I do not know its name), climbing up Sombreuil:

Jackie

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 1:36PM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

I'm also in your zone and was scared of clems. Now I've got lots and lots of them and find them quite easy. The hardest part was learning to ignore the fact that they looked dead during the winter time....

I'm not sure where you are, but both Emerisa and Petaluma Cottage Gardens sell a good selection of very healthy clems at decent prices.

I just put in two new ones last week: Westerplatte and Mrs. Chomd......

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 1:51PM
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harmonyp

And curious, when planted with roses, what distance do you space them? Are their root systems intrusive / unintrusive to roses? I'm guessing latter since they so often tend to be planted with roses...

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 1:58PM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

I plant all my roses and all my clems in gopher baskets, and usually place the roses however far I want them apart and then put a clem somewhere between them and with something (besides the rose) for them to climb on. If I have made one mistake with clems it has been to underestimate the heights to which they want to climb and their real need for wire to do it with. They have a hard time when what I have provided for them is too thick or too far apart. 2 X 3 " fencing is P U R R F E C T....8-10' high is good to keep them from getting to the top, bunching up and falling all over themselves coming back down. Cattle fencing makes great arches for putting clems onto....one one each side along with a complementary rose or two....

Oh, I probably didn't quite address your question, but I would always space them far enough that I can still get the roses out again. I have a tendency to move things, so I need to know I can move the rose without disturbing the clem, which I have been led to believe won't like it at all. Roses don't give a hoot when I dig them up and move them....well at least not after an initial sulking period.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 2:41PM
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jacqueline9CA

I just plant clematis about 2 feet away from the roses, and when they start to grow I gently put them up against the rose. They will cling on with little twiny things, and then climb up the rose themselves.

They DO look dead in the Winter - completely. They are not dead, however. If you just leave them alone they will start sprouting in the Spring. They are very easy - they may take a while to get going, but then watch out! I'm not sure about your "filtered shade on fence lines" - I would try one in the place where there is the most sun for the longest period of time, and see what happens.

Jackie

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 3:47PM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

What Jackie said, plus give them lots of water. The old saying was (something along the lines of): "head in the sun, feet in the cool", but it turns out they don't need it cool so much as damp...(which cool often provides, but apparently temp isn't the issue....)

Oh yeah, and from all the pictures I have seen of Jackie's roses, they are BIG (and beautiful and healthy). With younger/smaller/newer roses, I still think another support of some sort is advisable. Some of my clems would over-power a large number of my roses if the roses were their only support. (Even a 10+ year old Cornelia is a bit overwhelmed by a 3-4 year old Ernest Markham....)

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 4:31PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Start with Viticella hybrids (Etoile Violette, Polish Spirit, Perle d'Azur) and go from there. The type III's (cut to nearly the ground each winter) are the easiest. The type II classics like Nelly Moser and the doubles seem to need winter chill.

They are easier than roses. Just never let them dry out. They grow significant root systems so put some space between them and the rose so they don't overwhelm the rose.

'Wisley' is a good one too.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 7:57PM
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mnkitty

I second Etoile Violette. I'm not an expert gardener, and this clem. performs despite my ignorance. Plus, I have one on the north side of my house, so it can handle shade and blooms a long time. I like Niobe for an early bloomer. I think you'll find them easier than roses. I do.
Kitty

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 9:20PM
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melissa_thefarm(NItaly)

About the summer water, don't panic. If the clematis are growing in deep heavy soil, once they're established several weeks without watering in the summer won't kill them. They may grow more slowly, but they won't die. I second what everyone has said about clematis's fondness for sunlight. Given a choice between full blazing Mediterranean summer sun and merciful cooler part shade, the clematis will go for the sun. They do like plants growing around their feet though, and a moist soil.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 3:34AM
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nanadollZ7 SWIdaho(Zone 7 Boise SW Idaho)

Boy, do I feel like a clematis growing DUD after seeing these gorgeous vines. Finally, this spring I succumbed, against my better judgment, and bought a Rosemoor, a beautiful purplish red clematis I'd been wanting since it came out a few years ago. I planted it in sun, gave it plenty of water, and it was blooming beautifully and happily for a whole two weeks, when I noticed one morning it had completely collapsed and died. What the heck did I do to it? My gardening friend, an experienced grower of clems, said it was probably clematis wilt (I had just read about this fungal disease in Fine Gardening magazine--great article). The only thing I could think of that would bring this wilt on would be the watering I gave the flower bed the day before it died. Could this be possible since all of you have advised keeping the ground moist around a clematis? I'm flat out afraid to try another clem now for sure. Diane

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 4:02AM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

Diane, I hope you left that clem in place. That happened to my Asao just a month or so after I put it in the ground. Wilted to nothing. And then a month or so after that it started putting up new growth again. Clematis wilt happens, but it doesn't always (or maybe even often) kill the plant. This year Asau has climbed to the top of the 8' fence.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 10:52AM
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seil zone 6b MI

Don't let those spindly vines fool you, they're tough! Even cracked, shredded and mangled my clems continue to grow and bloom. They're as tough and hardy as any rose!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 10:59AM
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alina_1

Diane, your Clematis might not be dead. Clematis do this sometimes - usually when the top growth is too substantial for the roots to support. That is why it is highly recommended by experienced Clematis growers to pinch back all new growth for all newly planted Clematis. That stimulates roots and helps to form a bushier plant.

It also sounds to me that you might have overwatered your Clematis. When it is correctly planted (the crown is 2-4" below the surface; mulch around), it does not need that amount of water. Clematis are hard to kill. I only lost my Clematis to crown rot (bad drainage or overwatering).

Cut back all vines. Keep the soil slightly wet - not soggy. It can give you a new growth soon. If it is planted too shallow, replant it now or this fall. Pinch all new growth several times during the active growing season for at least two years.

Clematis are easy to grow :)

Compact Clematis Piilu - great for containers and small gardens:

Alina (owner of 60+ Clematis)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 11:06AM
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nanadollZ7 SWIdaho(Zone 7 Boise SW Idaho)

Thank you so much for this info, landlady, seil, and alina 1. I had know idea this clem might be alive. It's still out there because I couldn't bring myself to remove it, I was so disgusted with myself. I just hope it hasn't dried out too much. I'll run out right now and follow your instructions. Thanks again! Diane

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 1:50PM
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mindoro

Saw this pic on the web. Lovely combo.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 6:09PM
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nanadollZ7 SWIdaho(Zone 7 Boise SW Idaho)

landlady, seil, and alina 1: you were so right. Earlier today, I checked my dried up "dead" (I thought) Rosemoor clematis, and lo and behold, two tiny green shoots were popping up out of the base of the plant! I was thrilled, and now I hope I don't blow it by overwatering or anything else this plant may not like. This made my day. Thanks again, Diane

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 2:20AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

Yeah, I had a few clematis come back from the dead. And sometimes it was me cutting it thinking this has to be dead, and there was a bunch of new growth on top. So I've learned not to cut them until it finishes blooming if at all.

I have one Josephine clematis that is beautiful. One year there was a dead bird in it. It smelled so bad we had to cut down the whole plant. I thought it was gone, but it came back a few days later.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 9:25AM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

You go Diane !!!!
Clems are such an excellent addition to roses and they give you space you thought you didn't have since you can put them in between the roses that are already taken up all of your ground space and they can to up and over into space not even counted into your plot planning. They are a garden addict's dream....

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 10:59AM
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alina_1

Congratulations Diane :)
Your main goal now is helping your Clematis to establish. When these shoots grow a little, pinch them above the first leaf node. Two new shoots will grow from this node. Pinch them too. Do this at least 2-3 times this and next year.

One of the most common newbie mistakes is letting the original shoots grow. The Clematis will not die, but you will get a leggy one or two vine wonder with a couple of flowers on the end.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 11:11AM
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hup2345(z6 NY)

Based on the recommendations from our friends on the Rose Forum, I took the plunge a couple of years ago and planted the clematis Prince Charles at the base of my climber Rosarium Uetersen. You can see it on the right of this picture. I also planted the clematis Rooguchi, but it's flowers are too small to see in this shot. But, it's all beautiful. No problems.
Best of luck,
Al

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 8:11PM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

Pinching ??? I've never pinched any, and they have never seemed scraggly. Here's one that just went in last year.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 9:28PM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

Oh nevermind. I can't get the picture small enough to upload it. Sorry about that.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 9:33PM
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nanadollZ7 SWIdaho(Zone 7 Boise SW Idaho)

What a beautiful combination of rose and clematis, and what an elegant home, hup2345. Diane

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 2:46AM
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sandinmyshoesoregon

What kind of climate do you live in Alina? I live in coastal Oregon & have a devil of a time with clematis wilt. Our summers are cool so I wonder if I need to put mulch around the roots at all?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 8:48AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

What a beautiful home you have hup2345!

Beautiful Piilu, Alina!

thanks for posting those pics.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 10:36AM
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alina_1

Thanks Hoovb :) Piilu is the only Clematis that I grow next to a rose. It is a very good variety, so I highly recommend it, especially with some bright roses:

Peggy, I am in Maryland, zone 6/7.
Lots of experienced gardeners on Clematis forum are your neighbors in PNW. It looks like your climate is perfect for Clematis - their Clemmies are gorgeous. Mulch is really helpful for keeping the soil moist all the time. That is what Clematis need (not "cool roots" according to a popular myth).

Clematis wilt is a fungal disease (Ascochyta clematidina). It is quite rare actually. As I mentioned before, wilting vines are caused by insufficient root system rather than by true Clematis wilt. Sometimes, a kink that you did not notice makes the vine above it die. If you do have a real Clematis wilt, you need to treat it (read the article).
Also, there are some varieties that show better resistance (viticella and alpina Clematis are excellent choice).

As for pinching, believe me, I know what I am talking about. It does help to get the plant established and to get a better shape. I grew them without pinching, with some pinching, with severe cutting and pinching. So, I can compare. For all new Clematis, the last method is the best. I am really grateful to people on Clematis forum that taught me how to handle these babies 9 years ago.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 11:06AM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

Whoops, I apologize if I sounded like I was discounting the pinching theory. Today I'm going to go out and pinch the newest clems just to show myself that I am not stuck in my ways and that I am open to being shown a better way.

Thanks for the information.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 11:26AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

Question, I have a clematis that is a two stalk wonder. Can I cut it back now (or next spring) and will that make it bushier? Or is it too late?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 11:42AM
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alina_1

It is definitely not too late to do this now. The blooming will be delayed, but there is still plenty of time this year. If your Clematis type 3, you have to do this every spring. If it is type 1 or 2, do this for at least 2 more years. Then, according to its pruning type.

Landlady, if you started with a good size plant with well developed root system, pinching is not crucial (still helpful though). If your baby clematis is small (good example - clematis from Bluestone Perennials or Donahue's) - it is truly essential :)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 11:59AM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

This morning I am trying again to shrink this photo small enough to get it to upload. Just so you know that it CAN be done without the pinching....Even if I am going to go pinch some others.

This DH Young is just 2 years old

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 12:01PM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

Aha. I had totally forgotten the part about how old the plant really is rather than how long it has been in the ground. Most of mine were purchased locally in gallon pots and so probably had some age on them already when I put them in the ground. That would give me an advantage I'm sure. Still....I will be paying more attention to getting them growing sooner/faster from now on.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 12:04PM
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peachymomo(Ca 8)

What perfect timing for this post, I recently finished planting roses in a new bed and I want to add some clematis to climb up onto the fence behind them. I can't decide what color clematis I want to get, the roses are all hot colors in the red-orange-yellow range and I'm leaning towards blues and purples to contrast. Whether I will go for more pastel lavender tones or more vibrant dark purples is where I'm stuck. I love the dark purple clematis, but just when I think I've decided I see a beautiful lavender that sways my heart...

If you were me, and liked hot colored rose beds with vibrant contrasting colors, what would you do? Dark purple or lavender clematis?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 12:29PM
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msjam2

Here's mine, I forgot the name but it's planted with Crepuscle.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 5:44PM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

Oh my, oh my.... I planted Ramona a year or so ago with my Crepuscule, and she is just this year peeking out over the top.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 5:51PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I like the contrasting combos, the purple clematis with crepescule above is stunning. I have a red clematis with Reve d'Or. I think the I would do the bright blue with an orange/red/yellow rose combo.

I have a lavender with a once blooming rose, so they don't really bloom together.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 7:21PM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

Although I'm in a very different zone, I want to second Hoov's recommendation that you try Viticella types. Here, they are much more vigorous, less likely to wilt and flower over a longer period.

Betty Corning with Westerland Rose

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 10:14AM
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bethnorcal9

I have quite a few of them. Some I chop back to a nub when they're done blooming, and some I forget to prune. Some are in sun, some are in shade. And one my husband just "accidentally" chopped off at the base just before it was to bloom. It was going over an arch in the backyard and we were cleaning up, and he thought he was tugging on a big weed, so he cut it! I about choked him! I have no idea if it will come back or not. Men....

Here is my absolute favorite FLORIDA SIEBOLDII growing up a 4x4 post with BLAZE OF GLORY climbing rose in the backyard in mostly shade.

May 18

May 22

And this one I can't remember the name of, but it has gone up thru my HIGH HOPES climber on an arch out front in full sun:

And this one, which is a different type (sorry I don't know the differences) got too invasive and went out over the utility cables this yr. I just chopped the heck out of it a couple days ago and will need to remove the massive stump. I just can't have this one taking over everything!!!

I have several others but haven't taken pics of them...

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 9:46PM
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harmonyp

Ok, I finally bit the bullet. I bought Moonlight and Elsa Spath today. Not a clue what I was buying - they had type A, B and C's. C's were labed as hard prune, B - optional prune, A - no prune. I went for the optional prune (wording struck me best). Found the two healthiest 1 gallon Type B's and this is the resultant two. Now to get them in the ground, say a little Clematis prayer, and see what happens...

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 5:23PM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

New pics of my arbor featuring Westerland Rose with Venosa Violacea clematis. The clematis is just reaching the top of the arbor and has open blooms only on its lower half.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 11:17AM
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James_Shaw_San Francisco Bay Area

I found this thread very helpful. I too have several clematis near my roses. For example, Clematis Niobe next to a Royal Sunset. A favorite clematis is Crystal Fountain, which I have near a Cl. Peace. The photo that I want to share doesn't picture any roses, but the Clematis Montana looks, in my opinion, dynamite. The pine tree is roughly 40 feet tall, and the clematis climbs to within three feet of top. I use raw well water for my yard, which has a lot of iron in it--photo has a dingy look because of it. However, pinkish clematis flowers high above hammock don't. Jim

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 1:53PM
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