Clematis chat: Success without effort

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

We came from here:

A friend and I, both clematis lovers, were writing recently about some people who want success without effort. They either ignore the needs of the clematises or prefer to do things their way and most often they're met with unhappy clematises that could be stunning if they gave the soil and planting conditions more of a priority.

When I was new to clematises, 20 years ago, a neighbor told me not to waste my time because "they don't grow here". Her failures came via Michigan Bulb Company so we were not surprised at her comment. She was a doctor so I appreciated her knowledge of the medical field but when it came to gardening she was woefully lacking.

Success comes with effort and learning. The first clematises I planted have all survived and I credit the compost. If you don't have your own compost piles you can buy it or buy composted manure, which is as close as you can probably get. Don't skimp! Be generous and improve your chances of bountiful blossoms.

Here's Pink Champagne with montana Grandiflora:

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Louisville, KY

I think success always starts with the soil. I am 72 but still manage to haul in compost by the truck load. I stir in compost with every thing I plant. I also believe in planting into a large hole which is filled with well amended soil.

This is a clem that almost disappeared before I started mulching with compost and putting a stone near its roots

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(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Success does begin with the soil. Speak to any rose grower and see how they play nursemaid, lovingly, to every request the rose has and they reap the benefits. Plant the same roses in "dirt" with no amendments and the roses will not be as healthy nor will they give the blooms that the right treatment would.

I'm almost 71, John, and some days feel a lot longer than they did even a few years ago but I'd rather tend the plants I have than go out buying dozens more and neglecting what I have.

Your clematis is lovely and I'm so glad it's thriving now. Some can be brought back from almost nothing while others aren't so fortunate.

I just dug up Franziska Maria and have little hope it will respond to all my attention but I'm babying it as though it were my one and only. We'll see what a few months can do for it. The area where it was became overrun with digitalis and it was totally hidden. I've never had a bloom from it.

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Beaumont, TX(Zone 9a)

Hi pirl,

I have 'midnight showers' and Dr. Ruppel that was purchased thru a co-op and they both have died down; I've check on the roots and they look OK. I'm babying them just like you. Wow, 20 years, growing clematis! I'm just starting...

Grosse Pointe Shores, MI(Zone 6a)

Well, it's official. I'm clematis-crazy.

I had a doctor's appointment today, and my travels took me out near a produce market I like to frequent. They had their May plant tent sale out in the parking lot. I went to look, but not expecting anything (other than perhaps an herb I might like) because it's mostly impatients, geraniums and begonias and the like, and I'm not much for annuals except for a couple pots which I'm not ready for yet. I was ALMOST out of there when I turned the very farthest corner and saw them. Dozens and dozens of clematis. All sorts. Thankfully I couldn't see a price anywhere, so I only selected one, but had I known the price, I probably would have bought two. Anyway, I got a vitricella venosa violacea, which I think will look nice with my Omoshiro. But I definitely will need a larger trellis for the two of them now.

The two plants I ordered from Silver Star arrived today (John Huxtable and Ville de Lyon). All three are now repotted according to pirl's directions!

The two from Silver Star arrived already hard pruned, but the V3 had top growth on a small trellis. When I got it all unwound, it was probably 3 or 4 feet long! I selected this plant because it has a new growth just starting, so I decided to leave the long one (it has several buds already) and pinch back the new growth then it gets started.

DH caught me just finishing up with them and didn't say a word, although I felt a bit guilty about getting more plants! The feeling didn't last long...

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Inthegarden - when did you receive the co-op plants? This year? How big were they when you got them? I've bought many from co-ops and most are dead - one is alive. I hope yours survive.

Katherine - leave the guilt behind you. If they make you smile then you deserve them. I love the way you found them! Just out of curiosity, how many clematises did you have as of 1/1/2012? How many do you have now?

Over about 18 months I added 25 or 26 here and I never regret buying any of them.

Big Flats, NY(Zone 5b)

Koshki, Hi and welcome to group! I do not think you are showing any signs of being at all crazy! A sure sign of mental stability is that you ordered all wonderful plants! I absolutely guarantee your mental health will be greatly enhanced because, all the clems. you establish this season will be in pretty good or even fine bloom next year, so you see the worries you have lifted off your shoulders! Now sally forth and prepare sites where you think clems would look great, prepare theses sites and plant them with more clems! There now don't you feel better already? I used to be crazy before I found Clematis....and you should see me now! Lee

Inthegarden, I too am concerned with purchasing from co-ops. It hasn't worked well for me either,but, a few is not so bad to handle! I have grown a few co op and discount house plants to a size where they could do well in the garden. Maybe you can find out how to best do this were you live, I don't think I can offer good advice because we have very cold winters here in upstate New York causing dormancy. So my growing on issues are a lot different then warm winter gardens. Best of luck and have fun with your plants! Lee

Grosse Pointe Shores, MI(Zone 6a)

Thanks everyone...I have received quite a warm welcome from the clematis group, more so than any other forum here. I'm thinking I need to post in the "long threads" to introduce myself in those other groups.

I did post in the "intro" forum, but I don't think many people actually look at it. So here's my short intro: a 2005 illness took me out of boating and put me in a wheelchair. Then, missing being outdoors all summer, I gradually got into gardening, starting with single tomato plant. When we bought a wheelchair accessible home in 2009, I got into orchids, my first plant addiction. I also started gardening in earnest, as we were able to create raised beds and berms, and had a place for lots of containers.

I first discovered that we owned a clematis (I suspect it's a Gypsy Queen) in 2010 after we unchoked it from my neighbor's invading ivy, and I fell in love. I planted a Ruutel that fall in a small area near it. I the spring we planted Firefly, Allanah, and Kasugai, and late in the season I bought a Sappire Indigo on sale.

Since 1/1/2012 I have purchased: Omoshiro; jackmanii 'Superba'; Bijou; John Huxtable; Ville de Lyon; and vitrecella venosa violacea. Right at the top of my list is Princess Diana, but I have to find a very special place for it. I'm thinking of putting one to grow amongst my English roses (my little joke), but I have to make sure the colors will work together first.

Now, I recognize this illness because I've seen before it with orchids. In 2005 I had 2, and now I have over 250. But they are, for the most part, small and I can grow them indoors under lights. Clems are much bigger and they need specific places in the garden to thrive. And supports.

So that is my story, and I'm sticking to it. I have a lot of stress in my life that is somewhat intractable, so gardening and orchiding helps me find some breathing room.

Thanks you all for being to welcoming.


This message was edited May 3, 2012 7:20 PM

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

You are funny, Lee! Upstate NY and Texas are two different gardening worlds.

Katherine - so sorry to hear of your illness but it's amazing how one tomato plant can transform a person into a gardener. My husband also started his gardening life with tomato seeds under lights in the basement. Watching plants grow makes us all feel so accomplished while it's Mother Nature doing the actual work. We're just there to help by giving the plants the best environment possible - just like you give your orchids.

It's our pleasure to have you with us, Katherine, and hope you'll remain a clematis enthusiast.

When this one comes to America I want it!

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Grosse Pointe Shores, MI(Zone 6a)

Oh, that is charming! What is it called?

Athens, PA

There is something about the bell shaped clematis. I love them!

Marshalltown, IA(Zone 5a)

Koshki..........I was so taken by your story....I am sorry you have to be wheelchair bound. I find that gardening and watching a beautiful flower come to life is so satisfying. Plus the fact that you can keep your mind busy reading, and researching all the new plants.

I am 65, and I used to do alot of horse showing (quarter horses). Now, I still have the 5 horses and they retired right along with me. I still ride occasionally, but it is just around our pastures.

I am a big outdoor person, and keep active in my garden which I just started actually a year ago. I love daylilies, just really got into clematis and roses. As for the roses, I have only 3 and ordered 3 more that have to be diesease resistant, or the go dead on me...

About 3/4 years ago, I planted my first clem....jackmanii. I just dug a small hole, and plopped it in, not knowing anything else....Of course, it didn't come up the next year! So, about 2 years ago, I planted Nelly Moser....but this time, I dug a bigger hole and amended it with compost and black dirt....she took off.....and guess what? So did the Jackmanii... Now this year, after being on Daves Garden.....I read and ask all sorts of questions, I added my horse's manure compost and scratched it in, and both are doing really well......Last year I planted Princess Diana, and being much smarter (thanks to this site), she was amazing her first this year, she got some manure compost.....and wow! She took off.

Pirl is amazing in her knowledge, and enjoy reading her experiences and now yours.....Keep us posted on how your clems do....

This message was edited May 3, 2012 8:10 PM

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

That's a Japanese clematis, Haizawa. I've been told it will never come to America but I can dream, can't I?

Carolyn - the bells do have such charm. I love all clematises and feel like Annie from Oklahoma - "I'm Just a Gal Who Cain't Say No, I'm in a terrible fix...".

sm - you have gold on your hands with the horses! I've also planted clematises in shallow holes and had them grow anyhow but I credit the compost for their survival. While walking around the gardens yesterday I did see growth this year on Ilka.. Last year there was nothing so I was sure I had lost it but never removed the stone marker. I've learned if I remove the stone the clem will always come back and I may not remember the name of it. Mrs. Yuki is either dead or playing games. How annoying!

I enjoyed your phrase, "I'm a big outdoor person". When I'm stuck inside due to the weather I feel as though I'm imprisoned and find myself looking out windows just to reassure myself that eventually I will be outside again.

Though I do have Princess Diana, I also have Duchess of Albany. Both have pink nodding flowers but DoA grows better and is a much more generous bloomer than Princess Diana. They're only about 25' apart and get the same sunshine so it must be either the plant or something I haven't figured out yet.

1. Ilka
2. Princess Diana
3. Duchess of Albany

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Northern California, United States(Zone 9a)

A great new thread! Pirl, found some Epsom Salts at a dollar store yesterday, how much do you add per clem? Dry or diluted with water? I should have written it down, promise I will this time. ;-)

Also, anyone have any idea what is one may be? Saw it at a local nursery, no tag, loved the color! I thought at first H.F. Young but it doesn't look quite right.

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Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

Looks like Crystal Fountain but I am no expert.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Epsom Salt - one TBSP to a gallon of tepid water. If you're having a lazy day just sprinkle the ES, water it in and cover it with mulch.

Wish I did know the name of that wonderful clematis but I don't. I have Crystal Fountain (pictured here) but don't think that's a match. Your third photo makes me feel it is larger than the typical group 2. Did it look that way to you?

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Athens, PA

I wondered if it was Clematis Blue River.

Louisville, KY

Koshki :

It looks like you have been bitten by the bug. I never dreamed that I would have 40 plus clems, but here I am thanks to Pirl and the rest of the group.
It looks to me like you haven't let your accident beat you.


Grosse Pointe Shores, MI(Zone 6a)

Thanks, all. I really do think that if I hadn't discovered orchids and gardening I would be a raging B*** (rhymes with witch). I have had some recovery that has made a significant improvement in my quality of life over where I was initially, but barring some major medical breakthrough, this is probably it for me. Thankfully we have been able to arrange things to accommodate me to a fairly significant degree.

Now what I need is to see how you folks are working those clems into your landscape to get more ideas. Don't get me wrong, I love the close-ups of the flowers, but I'd really love to see photos of your gardens in general and how you get so many clems in them!

Northern California, United States(Zone 9a)

Yes pirl, it's quite a large bloom so I think that leaves Blue river out.

Here's my Crystal Fountain, it's quite the cool bloom!

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(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

We'll be hoping for that medical breakthrough for you, Katherine.

Just returned from a shopping spree so I'll post photos tonight and hope others will do so as well. I'd love to see photos of clem's in shrubs, close-up and wide angle or long distance shots.

Sue - it is a beauty! That center seems so prominent compared to so many others. Mine should be in bloom soon.

Saw many clematises today but there were many with this label. I found it amusing. Who would pay $29.99 for "Any variety" where the cultivar name should be?

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Louisville, KY

This picture is of a Berm which is about 80 feet long and up to 15 feet wide. It has an alternation of a clematis then a shrub clematis shrub etc.

The idea is to split this part of my garden into 2 parts so that as people walk along the path they will turn the corner and get a new view.

The make up of plants along the crest are Cletera, Yugomichusi(sp) , Mock Orange , A viticelli , Rose Citrus Splash ( which is too small for the plan and will have to be replaced), Clem Jackmani, Clem Guernsy Cream, a David Austin Shrub rose, Clem Niobe, Viburnum carlesi,Clem Nelly ? ( a senior moment)

I hope this helps.


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(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

That's such a lovely view, John, and such good choices in plants. I'll bet the senior moment one is Nelly Moser.

Which David Austin shrub rose? I've only had good luck with Graham Thomas.

Marshalltown, IA(Zone 5a)

Here is one of my gardens.....see Nelly Moser climbing? Right next to her is Jackmanii.....

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Marshalltown, IA(Zone 5a)

Oh, and here is my garden in the back of the yard.....My new Duchess of Albany will her climbing on this fence....Princess Diana is already there....

And my horses is the background....they are the compost machines!

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Marshalltown, IA(Zone 5a) is my bird new little Mr. President is in there with the daylilies.....

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Louisville, KY

Yep Nelly Moser it is. As to the David Austin...I don"t remember which one.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

What lovely pictures! John, are your clematis growing in the shrubs, or do some have separate supports as well? I used to have a nice full Nelly Moser years ago. All the beautiful photos here made me nostalgic, and I finally ordered one for myself. It came yesterday... Now I'll have to find the right spot for her!


Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

Calif-sue.That is a really cool bloom. My CFountain is young.The centers arent as large as your blooms have.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Nelly Moser enjoys some shade and does very well here with just morning and late afternoon sun. It's known to fade in full sun.

Grosse Pointe Shores, MI(Zone 6a)

John and SM, thanks for sharing! Two very different approaches, but two lovely results!

Louisville, KY

Pam ,
Those clems are on trellises. Most of the trellises come from Big Lots. They have often had them for About
$ 15. Nelly Moser may be my best grower. Its one of my originals from Lowes


Williamstown, NJ(Zone 6b)

I counted this evening, and I came up with 30 Clems I have. But I need more variety. I have found that most are of the same one or look near like it. I do have the ones that bloom in the mid to late summer that are bell shaped. My Advante Garde is coming up nice in the pot. I sure have hopes for her.

This message was edited May 4, 2012 6:47 PM

Louisville, KY

You go for it a bunch


Marshalltown, IA(Zone 5a)

I was at our big box store here, and Menards had several
Guernsey Cream clems for $7.50......they looked pretty good....I bit my lip and passed, but I think now I'll go back.

Have the Guernsey Cream clem done will for you all?

Also, they were pretty bushy....when you plant a bushy clematis, do you cut it back before you plant....or do you plant it like you would a plant that has only a handful of leaves?

See.....I have tons of questions here....:o

I do have Nelly, and she is a great producer as is Princess Diana.....what varieties have done well for you ? I am in Zone 5 and so far, I have had good luck....

Big Flats, NY(Zone 5b)

Hi Everyone, I mentioned that I bought a 'Pillu' Yesterday evening I was walking around the garden and realized that Piilu has a pleasant,musky,kinda sweet and prominent smell. I think it is the strongest clematis
scent I know of. I will sure spend more time sniffing clems.! What Clematis do you find with a scent? Lee

Louisville, KY

Guernsey Cream has done very well for me , Claire de Lune, Jackmani, and of course HF young

LeeI have found no scented Clematis except of course Sweet Autumn which is extraordinarily invasive here. It has taken over a vacated trailer park in 3 years or so. I walk dogs for the humane society which is next to the trailer park and notice that the sacs or all over place. I am going to take a look at Piilu .


Duluth, GA(Zone 7b)

Clematis armandii has an amazing scent, it's addictive. When it's blooming, I sniff it everyday, LOL. I even drag my DH and DS to smell it, they think I'm crazy, but they also agree that it smells wonderful. Annette

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

sm - Hopefully this will be my first blooming year with Guernsey Cream. I love the cream color.

The most devout gardeners I've heard about do not allow any perennial to bloom for two full years to increase the strength of the roots. I am not part of that group. I wouldn't have the heart to cut back a new lush clematis but you can cut back what I refer to a wimpy plant, which may not bloom anyhow.

It's hard to compare clematises to see what's done best for each of us. A lot depends on the planting, the sunshine and the original health of the plant. Root competition can be deadly. Some appear wonderful at first but don't seem to make good progress regardless of how we dote on them.

Omoshiro is my favorite though not the greatest producer of blooms, most likely due to the location, but many are excellent producers and go on and on with blossoms for weeks. Jackmanii produces thousands of flowers each year. This is Ernest Markham and it usually blooms a very long time and crosses over atop the nearby azaleas. Last year I added Patricia Ann Fretwell to the left of Ernest as a color echo and hope to see them bloom together eventually. Photo credits for the collage: Victorgardener for Patricia Ann Fretwell and Brushwood for Ernest Markham.

Lee - I've never noticed a scent to Piilu but will try to take notice this year. Thanks for the tip.

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Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

Koshki, this is how my Gipsy Queen looks like from 20 feet. I have planted some Veronicas, Blue daze and some hot pink zinnias around it. Next to it my white Ladybanks rose, which is blooming in early spring. Etelka

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