Clever clematis climbs to find the sun

Clever clematis climbs to find the sun

Written by Marion Waters

No wonder we rejoice when spring begins with its parade of flowers that delight us. One flower that always makes me happy is my ‘Nelly Moser’.

Growing on woody vines, clematis can be directed into places ground dwellers can’t reach, adding vertical interest to your garden. The abundant blooms create a wave of dazzling color – up trellises or porch beams, along fences, atop shrubs, or even a tree braid.

Jasmine plants are usually hardy and easy to grow. Dozens of varieties offer countless shapes, colors, and sometimes fragrances. Some produce interesting seed pods that rival the beauty of the flowers. The vines can grow up to 15 meters (50 feet) long! Plant clematis about 8 cm (3 in) deep in an area protected from sun, wind, and animals (especially deer) in fertile, well-drained soil. You will climb the vines to find the sun. Deciduous vines can be tangled and unsightly after they finish blooming, so it is wise to place them behind other shrubs. Plant in spring or early to mid-fall. Apply lime if the soil is acidic. Soak around plants year-round.

Jasmine plants are divided into three categories. Early flowering species bear flowers on the previous year’s shoots in early spring. After they finish flowering, they can be cut to fit the space. This will encourage new growth for next year’s flowers. Early to mid-season jasmine produces large flowers on lateral shoots emerging from the previous year’s growth and blooms again in mid- to late summer on the tips of the current year’s shoots. Prune in the same way as early-blooming varieties, but wait until fall when the blooming process has completely finished. For both groups, you can also thin out the overgrown plant by cutting off some of the old stems to the ground. Late bloomers produce large flowers on the current year’s shoots in summer and early fall. After flowering, cut back all of the previous year’s stems to a pair of vigorous buds 15-20 cm (6-8 in) above ground level. For all species, remove dead and damaged branches during pruning. If you’re not sure which category your clematis falls into, monitor its flowering habits for a year and you should be able to find out.

Another way clematis are clever is how they propagate through a process called layering. Vines on the ground become covered with fallen leaves and debris and begin to root. (Yes, it’s that simple!) If you carefully dig up the rooted vine and cut it off on both sides of the roots, you’ll have a brand new plant. In fact, last season I had so many of these new vines starting that I had to pull a lot of them out because they were encroaching on other bushes nearby. You can help layering by placing the vine on the ground in early spring and covering part of it with soil. Make sure the section you are covering includes some leaf buds because the roots will emerge from the leaf slits. Allow several months for roots to develop before digging up your new plants.

Most clematis are deciduous but there are also evergreen varieties, the most common being ‘Armandi’. Its leaves are darker and waxy. Since greenery can be enjoyed year-round, these varieties don’t need to hide behind bushes! They can arch over gates and doorways, wafting their sweet scent to all who pass beneath them.

The creative idea is to plant selected color varieties side by side and let them intertwine together to create stunning color combinations. Another idea is to plant a variety from each of the three categories, either in the same area or at different focal points, and have your jasmine plant bloom all season long. Now that would be smart!

Marion Waters is a retired teacher. She is a writer, soap maker, lifelong avid gardener, and master gardener. She lives on a hobby farm in Black Creek. For more see:

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