The Q&A Archives: Clematis

Question: Hello, I purchased a Clematis last year. It did well for the first year and this past spring it has grown and bloomed beautifully. My question is will it bloom again this summer? Should I deadhead the flowers? also have a potted Hibiscus tree that no matter what I do it still looks ready to die. I leave in full sun most of the day but then the leaves look completely wilted, if I give it some water the leaves turn yellow and drop off. Could you give me any instructions on it that I haven't done? Thanks!!

Answer: Clematis does not need to be deadheaded; the spent flowers will fall off on their own. Whether or not your clematis will bloom again depends upon the type you are growing. Here is some general information on growing clematis:

Clematis like their faces in the sun and their feet in the shade. Use shallow rooted ground covers to create a cool root environment. Hardy geraniums, creeping phlox, coralbells, lamium or Alchamilla would look lovely. You should give your vines a light pruning every year. When you prune them depends on when they flower and whether they flower on old wood or new growth. Below are the three general types and the best times to prune.

Type A: Early-flowering Clematis
These bloom in early spring, generally April and May from buds produced the previous season. Prune them back after they bloom before the end of July. This will allow time for new growth to set flower buds for the next season. Be careful not to cut into woody trunks.

Type B: Large-flowered Hybrids
Large-flowered hybrids bloom in mid-June on short stems from the previous season?s growth and often again in late summer on new growth. Prune in February or March by removing dead and weak stems. Plants in this group have the tendency to become bare at the base as they mature. Use a taller ground cover or shallow rooted perennial to help conceal the stems.

Type C: Late-flowering Clematis
Plants in this group flower on the last two to three feet of the current season?s growth. Some types begin blooming in mid-June and continue into the fall. This is the easiest group to prune because you don?t need to maintain the old wood. February or March is a good time to cut each stem to a height of about two to three feet.

As for your potted hibiscus, plant in containers can overheat when they receive afternoon sun. The sun can heat the container to the point where the roots can cook, which will certainly make the plant look bad. Try giving your plant morning sun and some protection from hot afternoon sun. Or, group other plants around it to help shade the container. Water thoroughly and then allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering thoroughly again. Potted plants can develop air pockets in the soil around the roots. Even though you think you're giving it a lot of water, the water could just be flooding out the drainage holes without completely wetting the soil. To overcome this, set the container in a larger container of water and allow to soak for 10-15 minutes, or until no more air bubbles rise to the surface. This will thorougly wet the soil and drive out all the air pockets. Do this once every 2-3 weeks during the growing season and I think you'll see an improvement in your plant.

Best wishes with your garden!

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