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Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Roses

Roses and Clematis (page 3 of 4)

by Beth Marie Renaud

Planting Companions

The ideal location for both clematis and roses is in full sun away from wind. Wind can damage clematis by tearing the leaf stems from their supports. Heavy winds can also damage climbing roses because they do not have a clinging habit. If possible, place the clematis where its root system will remain shaded and the soil will hold moisture longer, as on the shady side of a shrub rose. From there, the clematis will grow up so it can bask in full sun. Both plants need a lot of water, but clematis are more likely to suffer from lack of it. Provide each new plant with at least 1 gallon of water per week, more in hot weather.

Ideally, plant roses and clematis in spring. The planting hole for each should be large enough to accommodate its root system -- about 1-1/2 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep -- with dimensions varying depending on whether it has been purchased bare-root or in a container. Both plants love rich, moist, well-drained soil, so amend the soil before planting with compost or well-rotted manure and a handful of superphosphate.

Plant roses with the graft union 2 to 3 inches below the soil line in cold-winter climates, slightly above the soil level in warmer regions. Plant clematis with the crown 2 to 4 inches below ground level. Before planting container-grown clematis, gently loosen the thick roots of the large-flowered hybrids, but be careful with the fibrous roots of the small-flowered plants. Simply spread the roots of bare-root plants before planting.

To minimize water and nutrient competition and to make pruning easier, plant clematis at least a foot and preferably 3 feet away from the host rose, and train the stems into the rose with canes, stakes, wire, or string. If you plant the companions near a wall, place them at least 1-1/2 feet from the wall and guide their stems toward the wall with a stake.

Mulch new plantings to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and add nutrients to the soil. Apply mulch after the soil has warmed, covering a circle 1 foot in diameter around the plant to a depth of 2 to 3 inches. Keep the mulch 4 inches from the stems to reduce the chances of wilt developing. Fertilize in early spring before flower buds start to swell, and again in fall; use organic compost or composted manure, as well as liquid fertilizer in the spring. Discontinue liquid fertilizer when the plants are in bloom because it will shorten their flowering period.

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