The Q&A Archives: Clematis


Answer: Clematis are shallow-rooted vines and keeping those roots cool and evenly moist (protected from the hot sun?s rays) is our gardening objective. The easiest way to do this is to mulch the plant. Add three to four inches of organic mulch (not rocks) around the base of the plant. Keep the mulch eight to twelve inches or so away from the base of the vines to avoid any rot and mouse damage. (mice sometimes hide in overwintering mulch and chew off tender bark for lunch) Organic mulch is used because as it decomposes, it provides nourishment for the clematis. Rocks do not decompose quickly enough to be of benefit to the plant.

Plan to water at least weekly and be sure water deeply. Remember this plant likes even moisture so check under the mulch during the heat of the summer to ensure the soil is damp.

These vines are heavy feeders. I like to use compost every spring with several shovels full being applied around the base of each plant. And when the new vines are two to three inches long, I?ll usually give them a boost of fish food emulsion.

The nitrogen in the liquid emulsion really gets those vines growing. I note that feeding a high nitrogen chemical food (a little too much nitrogen) may stop blooming rather than enhance it because you'll grow huge vines at the expense of flower production, so feed carefully.

Best wishes with your clematis!

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