I’ve been shopping for climbing plants to screen the nasty plastic oil tank out the front of the house. As per usual I couldn’t resist adding a couple more gems to the trolley! 🙂
I’ve always been a sucker for Clematis, or Clematis Vine as they are sometimes known, and it’s right about now I like to plant mine.
What I love about them is they are so reliable, and providing you prune them effectively, and feed them from time to time, they will reward you handsomely with all manner of beautiful flowers.
I’ve had a fair amount of success in the past with most of the clematis plant family, Montana, Evergreen Armandii and the larger more familiar varieties.
I like to prepare a large deep hole about 3 times the size of the root ball, and prepare the ground with well rotted compost and a sprinkling of Fish Blood and Bone organic fertiliser. The other important thing I’ve learned about growing Clematis successfully is to keep the roots cool and never let them dry out.
I tend to plant about 4 – 6 inches deeper than the top of the pot as it helps to stop the plant rocking in the wind and damaging the delicate stems. It also encourages the plant to put out a strong root system. Finally I cover the surface of the soil with pea shingle and a couple of large stones to keep direct sunlight off the soil.
I don’t get too technical when it comes to pruning my clematis. I give the plant a general tidy up in the Spring, removing dead or diseased branches, and then cut each stem back to approx 2 feet from the base. I give each plant a handful of bone meal and fork it into the surface, before giving the plant a good water. I prefer to use rainwater if I can as the water in Hampshire can be a bit hard due to the amount of chalk in the landscape.
To cover the oil tank I’ve gone for a Russian vine, otherwise known as ‘Mile a Minute’, on account of how fast it can spread. I’ve grown them in the past and they really do the trick…if you want to cover something in a hurry that is. They don’t mind being hacked back either so if (when) it gets out of hand I’ll tame it with my trusty shears!
The other 2 climbers I bought are both Clematis Montana’s. They are both fairly quick growing and are among the first of the clematis to flower, which is a bonus in
early summer. The first, ‘Pink Perfection’, will grow to a spread of 8m x 8m and has the most gorgeous pink scented flowers. The second is ‘Sunrise’, which is not so fast growing and reaches a maximum size of 5m x 5m.
They’re both going on the trellis between Blackbirds and my neighbors property, which should cover it just fine. I like to share my plants with my neighbours if I can, this way we can both enjoy the flowers and benefit from a little additional shelter (not to mention privacy).
Update – 12 June 2012
15 months later and the clematis have all established themselves and are providing the screen we were looking for. Just goes to show if you provide the right growing environment your plants should flourish.
… and the most gorgeous flowers!