New Ways to Use Flowering Clematis in the Home Garden

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As a lifetime horticulture professional, Vicki Smith (http://www.LGYP.com) has exciting news and guidance for using Clematis in today's low maintenance landscapes.

As a lifetime horticulture professional, Vicki Smith (http://www.LGYP.com) has exciting news and guidance for using Clematis in today's low maintenance landscapes.

For the most part, vines are grown primarily for the enjoyment of their beautiful flowers. While there are regional considerations, one of the most popular flowering vines is Flowering Clematis. Typically forgotten in the garden until they start to bloom, their blooming starts Mid-Spring and continues until frost.

Having long bloom times, Clematis will climb or grow over most any structure, which includes trellises, fences, walls and down spouts and are frequently seen tumbling up and over mailboxes.

The issue of growing on mailboxes brings up an important point. Historically it has been stated that Clematis like warm tops and cool roots. However, seen growing well in full baking sun, out by the street or road where they generally receive only natural rain, tells the full story about how tough these tender looking Clematis really are. Simple things like mulching or placing flat stones over the root zone will help keep the roots cooler, but the take away message is not to be afraid to plant Clematis in a variety of settings.

In mentioning the low-maintenance aspect of gardening with today's busy lifestyles, it is important to know that there are three general Clematis types, and each have different pruning needs. It is very simple to find out which kind(s) you have. Please understand that cutting the plant back for vigorous growth and maximum flowering potential will only take a few minutes. What you don't want to do is prune your plant incorrectly and cut off the flower buds. Sometimes all that is needed is to cut back long stems to shape and maintain density, but in general, just remember to prune right after blooming is finished.

With a tremendous amount of breeding work done over the last decade, several interesting new groups of Clematis have emerged. For smaller landscaping areas, compact or dwarf varieties have been developed that also grow particularly well in containers, which is ideal for use on patios and decks. New, richer colors, larger individual blooms, increased mass of blossoming overall and improved fungus resistance allow easier, full season enjoyment.

A new trend for using Clematis vines in the home garden started in Europe and is quickly being adopted in the states. Planting the vines among a more mature landscape to allow the vines to mingle with evergreens, shrubs or even roses. This approach adds and extends the ornamental accent of how the plants soften the buildings architectural lines. Recently, Clematis were grown over upright and pyramidal Junipers at the Philadelphia Flower Show. Predictably, many people thought that there was a new flowering Juniper. The combination was fabulous and illustrates how adding just one new feature can easily change the look of the entire landscape.

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STEVE CISSEL

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