The Q&A Archives: Best Growing Conditions for Clematis?

Question: Last year I planted two Nellie Moser and they came up to about 6 inches. The leaves turned yellow and dropped. This year they are returning. What do I do to get them to flourish? They are mulched, protected by coneflowers, and have sun until noon. What type of trellis is best?

Answer: "Nelly Moser" is one of the most popular clematis and for good reason. It is a charmer with its large mauve flowers with carmine bars or stripes. It is an average climber to about 8 ft. so any standard trellis will work. Some gardeners prefer to allow their clematis to sprawl over a "ground trellis" which is nothing more than a dead shrub, a pile of wood, even strong stemmed perennials in the garden! Any structure, ornamental or natural, will do to hold the clematis off the ground. Use your imagination!

I will assume you transplanted them with copious amounts of organic matter because all clematis want rich, moist, well-drained soil to do well. They may have gone into a bit of transplant shock if their ideal conditions were not met, or if you transplanted them in the heat of the summer. Now that they are coming up, prune out any dead wood, and trim each branch back to a good strong pair of buds. Nelly Mosers will flower early on last years growth, and then again later in the summer on new growth. They should be mulched well, and given some shade around their roots. The mulch or some large rocks are good at providing this. Make sure your coneflowers are not so close as to be competitive with it. All clematis enjoy being fed either from natural sources such as well-aged manure or good compost, the time-release pellets, or monthly liquid feedings. Use a balanced NPK formula.

While clematis prefer full sun, Nelly Moser bleaches out in the hot sun, so having afternoon protection may keep the flowers brighter. There are a few diseases that can affect clematis, but they are usually strong growers. If your plants do not look well this year with the attention that you give it, post another question, and we'll try to find the cause.

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