The Q&A Archives: Clematis and other vines

Question: I have tried to grow a clematis this year. It is in a area that gets good sun, ie. morning to early afternoon. I have the base of the plant well mulched and have a ground cover growing around it. I am having trouble growing it. Will it come back stronger next spring or could it be getting too much sun and to hot a soil?

Also, I have a climbiing rose plant at the front of my house. It get a mix of sun (morning to mid day) and shade in afternoon. The climbing rose has done very well there. I am installing a new trellis in the fall or early spring and would like to grow another climber that does get as

Answer: With clematis, there is a rule of thumb that says first year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap! In other words, this is a plant that takes several years to become rooted and fully established before it grows to its full potential. It sounds like yours is behaving normally; sun all morning to early afternoon is fine.

Most vines are big plants, with the exception of some of the clematis that fall into the smaller and midsize range for vines. You might try a clematis along with your climbing rose, or you could consider an espalier (pruned and trained to grow flat against the wall). Depending on the width/depth of the space you might be able to train an apple or crabapple tree there, for example. Another option might be one of the taller Explorer roses (such as William Baffin for example) which would top out around 8 feet or so and is fairly manageable against a wall, although as with any rose you would need to thin it, tie it, and train it onto the trellis.

Your local professionally trained nurseryman might have some other suggestions based on a more detailed understanding of the growing conditions where you want to plant and your overall design goals.

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