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Vermont Garden Journal: Clematis

Matt Rourke
A clematis flower.

This buttercup family plant literally means ”vine” in Greek, but there's not a more international flower. Clematis are native to North America, Europe, India, Australia, China and Japan. There are clematis that bloom in full sun to shade. Some are rampant climbers, while others are more tame. And with careful selection you can have a clematis blooming in your garden from spring until fall.

First select hardy types for our cold climate. I like the early blooming Alpina clematis with single, multi-colored flowers shaped like bells that can bloom in full shade. The rampant growing Montana group is another early bloomer but has larger flowers. The real clematis show begins with the large-flowered types such as 'Nelly Moser', 'Duchess of Edinburg' and finally the classic Jackmanii. Later in summer and fall the small, white flowered and vigorous growing, sweet autumn clematis and the purple flowered virgin's bower take over the show.

Plant clematis in well-drained, compost-amended soil a little deeper than the plant rests in the pot. They like moist soil for best growing. Fertilize in spring with an organic 3-1-2 product. For strong growers, be sure there's a sturdy trellis nearby for them to climb or some shrubs. I once grew 'Nelly Moser' among some junipers and loved when the bright red flowers burst forth from the juniper's dark green foliage. But be patient with clematis. An old adage about vines seems to be true. The “first year they sleep, the second they creep, and the third year they leap”. The Jackmanii and late summer and fall flowering clematis bloom on new growth so prune in early spring. Any clematis blooming before Jackmanii should be pruned after they flower.

And now for this week's tip, watch my new video on vpr dot net backslash tours showing highlights of my upcoming Garden and Food Tour of Barcelona Spain and Provence France this September. We'll see Spain and France through a gardeners and foodies eyes, but sign up soon as the deadline is approaching.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about grub controls. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Broadcast on Friday, June 6, 2014 at 5:57 p.m. and Sunday, June 8, 2014 at 9:35 a.m.

The Vermont Garden Journal with Charlie Nardozzi is made possible by Gardener's Supply, offering environmental solutions for gardens and landscapes. In Burlington, Williston and

How to Grow Clematis
The Versatile Clematis

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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