Clematis (Small-flowering) – Clematis hybrids

Clematis is one of the most popular of all climbing plants. The genus contains about 250 species in a wide range of colours and forms.

In the wild Clematis grows in wooded areas, with its roots under the shade of the tree canopy and its tops reaching up into the light. These ideal conditions must be emulated if you want to achieve the abundance of flowers for which Clematis is justly famous.

The flowers can be small or large. Some varieties, mostly among the hybrids, produce saucer-shaped blooms up to 15cm (bin) wide; others are small, delicate and sometimes hang down. The small-flowered types tend to be strong and robust and need fairly heavy pruning, especially in places where their growth needs to be restricted, while large- flowered types adapt themselves more easily to confined spaces.

Small-flowered Clematis are very vigorous. They grow to about 2.5-5m (7— 16ft) and cling to their support by means of tendrils which are actually twin leaf-stalks. When the leaves drop in November, the stems remain to provide support for the plant the following year.Clematis (Small-flowering) - Clematis hybrids

Young shoots on container-grown plants may occasionally need to be tied up into place, but the plant is usually self-supporting. Early-blooming varieties, such as the ‘dwarf’ C. alpina which reaches a mere 2m (oft), need to be thinned and pruned after the initial burst of blossom to keep the plants nicely shaped and tidy. Late-blooming types should be pruned in early spring, if at all.

Propagation

Propagate Clematis by taking cuttings.

In July, take semi-woody cuttings about 10-12cm (4-5in) long with two buds at the base and place them in a rooting medium.

When roots form towards the end of the summer, pot into well-drained soil-based compost in 8cm (3in) posts. Overwinter in frost-free conditions.

In spring, re-pot into 10cm (4in) pots. Transplant into large containers in October.

Pests And Diseases

All or some of the plant withers when the plant has a condition known as ‘Clematis wilt’ or ‘vine disease’. This fungus infection affects large-flowered varieties more often than small-flowered ones.

Treatment: Remove all diseased shoots by pruning well into healthy stems. Seal all cuts with sulphur powder. Spray new shoots with a suitable fungicide every two weeks until all signs of the disease have disappeared.

Poor flowering may be caused by over-dense growth.

Treatment: Prune to thin growth and spread remaining shoots out along a trellis or other frame.

PLANT CARE

This plant thrives with its roots in cool shade and its stems and flowers exposed to the sun. Thin dense growth by pruning, especially if the plant is not flowering profusely.

  • Potting: Use a well-drained light garden compost. Add fresh compost and peat annually in spring.
  • Clematis hates wet roots, so water very sparingly unless the plant has just been potted. Never leave the container standing in water.
  • Feeding: Feed once a week during the growing season with a liquid fertilizer. Do not overfeed, as this inhibits blooming. Stop feeding when flowering begins.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: Roots should be kept shaded. Shield south-facing roots from strong sunlight. Stems, leaves and blooms should be given as much light as possible.
  • Temperature: Most small. Flowering varieties are hardy, and are well- suited to a cool or unheated conservatory, or in containers on a patio.

Buying Tips

  • Buy from almost any nursery or garden centre for planting between October and April/May. Clematis planted in the autumn should bloom the following season.
  • Strong supple stems, green undamaged leaves, perhaps a few flower buds. Do not buy a plant which is obviously pot-hound.
  • As long as the basic needs of the plant are met, it will live for many years.

Small-flowered Clematis are among the most widely grown of all climbing plants. This plant will provide an abundance of blooms in spring, summer or autumn for years.

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