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Growing Clematis

I have really enjoyed subscribing to your online newsletter. I have gotten so much information on gardening and really delicious recipes! I just today, got my current newsletter with the article on "Pruning Clematis," but you left out general care instructions. How does one grow clematis?

Thank you so much for the kind comments. It means a lot to hear positive feedback. In response to your question here are a few tips on growing clematis.

Situating Your Clematis
Clematis need 5 to 6 hours of sun but prefer their “feet” to be shaded. To accommodate this requirement I plant my clematis in full sun at the base of an evergreen shrub or in combination with a climbing rose. You can also shelter the root area with a mass planting of low growing perennials.

Soil
Clematis prefer neutral soil. If your soil is acidic it is recommended that you add lime. Check with your local Cooperative Extension about getting your soil tested. This will help you determine if lime is needed.

If you find that your soil is highly acidic, lightly dust under each plant with a small amount of lime. Do this in the spring and fall the first year and then just once a year after that. Lime helps the plant to absorb nutrients.

Planting
To plant your clematis dig a hole twice as wide as the nursery pot and deep enough that the base of the plant will sit 3 inches below the soil level. Add a good dose of well-rotted organic matter to the bottom of the hole. Gently remove from the nursery pot, careful to not disturb the root ball and place in the hole. Fill in with soil. Water well and support with the stake that came with the plant.

During the first year not much feeding is required but keep well watered.

Feeding
Clematis are heavy feeders. In the spring after the new growth is about two inches long, feed with a fertilizer rich in phosphorous. There after alternate feeding every four to six weeks between an all-purpose and a phosphorous rich fertilizer. Continue this routine until the end of summer.