If you’ve enjoyed a clematis in your garden chances are you’d like to add another. If you’ve never had one, they make a nice addition to mailbox posts, fences, porch pillars or trellises. They come in a selection of colors and in vigorous and compact varieties. The standard clematis flower is a large 5-6” blossom with six or seven petals. There are also cultivars with smaller blossoms and double blossoms. Colors range from white to red to purple and blue. Each variety has different bloom times and duration as well. ‘Sweet Autumn’ has a small four petaled white flower that blooms late summer through fall while ‘Henryi’ has large showy white blooms that are heavy in May and then sporadic through frost. Reds such as ‘Rouge Cardinal’ or ‘Gipsy Queen’ are popular for their bold blossoms as is the Purple ‘Jackman Superba’. ‘Piilu’ with it’s unique pink and white bloom and ‘Blue Light’ are popular for their long extended bloom time. ‘Freda Anemone’ (pictured right) is lovely with it’s small, fragrant, deep pink anemone-like blooms through summer.
For best performance, purchase an established plant in a gallon or two gallon sized pot that shows vigorous growth. Plant them in full sun or light shade. Clematis like sunny heads but shady roots. Mulching around the roots will help keep the soil cool, as will the foliage of a low-growing perennial or shrub close by. Some clematis are bushy but most were born to climb. Provide twine, thin branches or dowels for it to climb; anything over 1/2” in diameter will be difficult for the clematis to grab on to so it may be necessary to help it onto a large trellis with twine or netting. A healthy, well fed clematis will provide beautiful foliage and ample blooms. Select a few varieties with different bloom times to enjoy them in multiple seasons. Some varieties can be pruned back to the ground. However, other varieties sprout new growth from last years stems. When in doubt, leave them alone until new growth emerges in spring and then cut out any dead wood that remains. If you have a natural landscape, consider leaving the old growth for the new vines to climb on.