Clematis forum: Baby Clematis questions, problems?

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Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
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joannakat
Sep 24, 2016 8:21 AM CST
Hi everyone,

Newbee here! I just purchased a potted, 4" Clematis Josephine from White Flower Farms. When it arrived, I unpacked it immediately and found that the poor thing has many brown, dying leaves. Tissue was taped into the pot and was surrounding the base of the little baby plant. (see picture) When I removed the tissue, the poor plant just plopped over as if the stem was broken at the base--evidently, the tissue was propping the plant up. The stem's not broken, but the it's so thin and brown (it looks like a thick brown thread) that it cannot support this tiny plant. I contacted customer service and they wrote back saying that this is the time of year when clematis lose their leaves so it's normal for them to look this way. They offered to replace it with another, but stated that it would most likely be in the same condition. I don't know what concerns me more, the condition of the leaves or the poor stem! I really expected something in better condition. Am I wrong? Is this what they should look like in September? I should mention that I'm in north-central Massachusetts, zone 5a.
Thumb of 2016-09-24/joannakat/3dac70
Thumb of 2016-09-24/joannakat/de7090



AKA Joey.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 24, 2016 8:39 AM CST
Hi Joanna and welcome! Little clematis plants really do have weak stems like that and in the spring you'll need to support it with some slender sticks or little stakes. It's too bad that one of the stems broke, probably from rough handling in shipping, but it won't hurt the plant's overall health now. If you can "splint" the little stem to keep it alive until the leaves drop, that's what I'd do just because it would make me feel better. Shrug! Smiling A couple of toothpicks and some tape? I did this at my daughter's house to a little slip that we had started - her dog broke its one stem in the spring, so I splinted it, and by the end of summer that thing was 4ft. tall. (much more important to keep a stem alive in the spring)

Your little plant looks like it had lots of healthy leaves up until recently. They are going dormant now, so yes I'd expect a clematis to look like that in late September. The important thing now is to preserve the health of the root system. You can expect vigorous new growth next spring from the roots.

I would get busy and plant it out, and water it when the weather is warm. Put a little cage or some stakes around it so it doesn't get stepped on, and when all the leaves have died back, put a good thick layer of mulch over it for the winter. You really don't want the roots 'heaving' out of the ground with freezing and thawing, and you want it to stay evenly moist. Don't give it any fertilizer either. The potting mix it's in probably has a little bit, to support the remaining green leaves.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
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joannakat
Sep 24, 2016 8:55 AM CST
Thanks dyz! I'll give it a good try. I feel like my plants are my children (silly) and so it bothers me when they look like they're ill.

AKA Joey.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Sep 24, 2016 8:57 AM CST
I'm with you. Rolling my eyes. Big Grin
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Sep 24, 2016 9:04 AM CST
Welcome, Joanna!

The stems are thin but so many clem's have "almost dead" looking stems. It's really not a problem though not what we clematis lovers want to see on a new arrival.

Please don't fret over ugly leaves. It's the roots that are important. You can cut off any offending leaves and then put the clematis in a well prepared spot (head in sun, feet in shade). The soil should incorporate compost, manure, Epsom Salts (one tablespoon to a gallon of lukewarm water). Angle the plant towards the trellis (or whatever you choose to have it grow on). Insert a sturdy stake. Mulch the soil heavily.

The Epsom Salt drink will encourage new stems to grow.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Image
joannakat
Sep 24, 2016 10:07 AM CST
pirl said:Welcome, Joanna!

The stems are thin but so many clem's have "almost dead" looking stems. It's really not a problem though not what we clematis lovers want to see on a new arrival.

Please don't fret over ugly leaves. It's the roots that are important. You can cut off any offending leaves and then put the clematis in a well prepared spot (head in sun, feet in shade). The soil should incorporate compost, manure, Epsom Salts (one tablespoon to a gallon of lukewarm water). Angle the plant towards the trellis (or whatever you choose to have it grow on). Insert a sturdy stake. Mulch the soil heavily.

The Epsom Salt drink will encourage new stems to grow.


Thank you pirl! Would it be good to plant it near the base of peonies? I'm so new to this! I was actually thinking of planting in a pot and then maybe transplant to my garden next year. Can they do well in pots? And do they transplant well?

AKA Joey.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Sep 24, 2016 10:42 AM CST
Some people do plant clem's near other plants. I've lost too many when I've tried it so the choice is yours.

They do transplant well! You could pot it up so it wouldn't have any root competition from any other plant but then plant the pot until you find the ideal spot for it next spring. Mulch it well!
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Image
joannakat
Sep 24, 2016 11:17 AM CST
Thank you Arlene and Elaine (I just noticed that our actual names appear on the right!)

I think I'll try to pot it while I watch what my garden does over the coming season, and then decide where to put it. It sounds like I have a large area but actually, I only have a couple of strips to work with, one about 16' x 2', and the other about 9' x 2'. I overcrowded it this past season so some plants didn't grow. I want to avoid that in the future (learning!)

So I noticed that the planting instructions say to plant the crown of the clematis 3" below the surface of the soil. In this small, potted plant, would the crown be below the soil already? i.e., should I plant it deeper in the soil than it already is? And what does the crown of a clematis look like anyway?

Elaine, you gave such great advice about what to put in the soil when planting in the garden, but what should I use if I go ahead and pot it up?

And one last question for now, should I jump to a really big pot or just go with one or two sizes larger that it's current pot like you would with a houseplant?

Thanks again for all the help. You are lifesavers (for me AND my clematis!)
AKA Joey.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Sep 24, 2016 4:17 PM CST
Put it in a one gallon pot, along with the compost, manure, Epsom Salt, and please add mulch. Yes, plant it 3" deep. The crown is where the stems emerge.

Overcrowding seems to come naturally to many gardeners. We all want that lush look right away!
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Image
joannakat
Sep 24, 2016 4:57 PM CST
Thank you Arlene, I'll do it! And you're so right. Trying something different this time. But I must say, I am enjoying the birds that are flocking to my garden right now. The don't seem to fear people for some reason! Wish me luck with the clematis!
AKA Joey.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Image
joannakat
Sep 24, 2016 5:00 PM CST
Oh, wait! One more question! So the crown is where the stems emerge. So I place this 3 to 4 inches below the surface of the soil?
AKA Joey.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Sep 24, 2016 5:20 PM CST
Yes. Cut off (do not rip off) any leaves that would be underground.

I do wish you lots of luck!

Today I enjoyed the birds, butterflies and the cooler temperatures we're getting - heavenly!
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Image
joannakat
Sep 24, 2016 5:50 PM CST
Oh, yes, gardening is the best thing in the world! Thanks again. I'll update with pictures in the spring.
AKA Joey.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Sep 24, 2016 5:54 PM CST
We'll all be looking forward to the photos.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Image
joannakat
Oct 8, 2016 5:58 PM CST
Okay, here's my first photo of my clematis. It's not the one I complained about though. I had contacted customer service because the base of the stems was really broken but not detached. They sent a new one in MUCH better condition. I was surprised when I planted it today though because the roots were shaped like they had be seriously overcrowded in a 2" pot (it came in a 4" pot), all curved around and in the shape of the small pot. When I removed it from the 4" pot it came in, most of the soil fell away and that's when I saw the roots. Is this to be expected? I tickled them to tease them out, and then spread them in a nice hole and covered them with fresh soil. I still have the first one they sent, and I'll put that in a gallon pot to see if it comes back in the spring.

In the picture, my baby C is in the lower, left corner.
Thumb of 2016-10-08/joannakat/aff1b4

Here's a better picture of baby C!



Thumb of 2016-10-09/joannakat/dbc700

AKA Joey.
[Last edited by joannakat - Oct 8, 2016 6:06 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1294003 (15)
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Oct 8, 2016 8:00 PM CST
It's good that they sent a better clematis than the first attempt. Some are rootbound, depending on how long it spent in the small pot. You did the right thing in teasing the roots apart and planting it.

Please mulch both plants.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Image
joannakat
Oct 8, 2016 8:08 PM CST
pirl said:It's good that they sent a better clematis than the first attempt. Some are rootbound, depending on how long it spent in the small pot. You did the right thing in teasing the roots apart and planting it.

Please mulch both plants.


I agree. What do you recommend using for mulch? And how much should I use?

Thanks!
AKA Joey.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Oct 8, 2016 8:34 PM CST
Nothing rubber! Nothing dyed! Visit your local Agway, Lowe's or Home Depot and check out their offerings. I prefer the "crushed pine needles" but only one Agway carries it and none of the big stores, here, have it.

Pine Bark mulch is also fine but those bags are heavy! The long needled pine are in lightweight bags. Both types are 3 cu. ft. per bag.

Don't put either one too close to the stems - keep it about 2 or 3" away. Apply about 2" thick.

Crushed: Thumb of 2016-10-09/pirl/f37ff3

Pine Bark Mulch: Thumb of 2016-10-09/pirl/38b4b3

Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Image
joannakat
Oct 8, 2016 8:44 PM CST
pirl said:Nothing rubber! Nothing dyed! Visit your local Agway, Lowe's or Home Depot and check out their offerings. I prefer the "crushed pine needles" but only one Agway carries it and none of the big stores, here, have it.

Pine Bark mulch is also fine but those bags are heavy! The long needled pine are in lightweight bags. Both types are 3 cu. ft. per bag.


A friend of mine has organic, home-grown hay. Would that be good too?
AKA Joey.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Oct 8, 2016 8:54 PM CST
I have no way of knowing if it has weed seeds in it, or not. You can take a chance - your choice.

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