Why is it that most of us add new plants to our gardens in the spring? Perhaps the impending warmth that that time of the year promises is incentive enough for us to get excited about our gardens again.
Yet spring is such a busy time in all our gardens with many jobs waiting to be done so why not get ahead and start planting your new clematis now?
Autumn is equally as good a time as the spring to invest in new plants, indeed many clematis would favour being planted in the autumn whilst the ground still has some warmth left in it. It gives them the chance to settle in to their new position before the weather turns really nasty. They can then sit there, dormant over the winter and are ready on the starting blocks for when the weather starts to warm up and they will be off to a flying start!
Prepare your planting site as usual, forking the ground over well and dig out a large, deep hole that will adequately accommodate the rootball. The hole needs to be deep enough so that the lowest set of leaf joints on the clematis stems will be buried beneath the soil level once planting is completed. So checking the depth of the hole is crucial! Once you’re satisfied that the depth is correct, add a good single handful of bonemeal to the loosened soil in the bottom of the hole and mix it in.
Thoroughly loosen the roots around the rootball to enable them to root into the fresh soil and then plant, infilling with soil and being careful not to damage the stems, and water in.
Once planted, it is really worthwhile mulching the soil around your new plant. Well rotted manure is ideal, as is good garden compost or leaf mould, or recycle the compost from used growbags, or a mixture of any of these would be good. Mulching will ensure the clematis has added nourishment over the winter and, if the weather is very severe, it will act as a blanket insulating the new rootball and crown so that in the spring the clematis will shoot from below soil level from the shoots that were buried when it was planted.
So do try autumn planting those hardier types they, and you, can really benefit from that early start in the New Year.
There are just a few clematis that I would advise waiting until the spring to plant – those that are considered ‘half-hardy’ in much of the UK such as the Florida and Forsteri types - for example florida ‘Sieboldiana’ (aka ‘Sieboldii’ & ‘Bicolor’), florida ‘Alba Plena’, ‘Early Sensation’, ‘Joe’ etc. I feel that these do better when planted in mid to late spring which gives them a chance to establish before winter arrives.
And what about giving a clematis as a Christmas present? Most people would love a new plant for their garden and clematis make perfect gifts at any time of the year and for any occasion.
Specific names are always popular for gifts – there is ‘Angela’ or ‘Anita’, ‘Barbara Jackman’, ‘Hania’, ‘Elizabeth’, ‘Frankie’, ‘Marjorie’, ‘Josephine’, ‘Prince George’ or ‘Rebecca’ to name just a few.
And why do they make such good presents? Well, we can guarantee that they are non-fattening (unlike the inevitable box of chocolates) but what we can’t guarantee is that they are non-addictive!
Hints & Tips
If you have a clematis that seems to be in the wrong place – perhaps too vigorous for the space or just not ‘doing well’ – then why not move it to another site in the garden? Now, or anytime over the winter providing the soil is not frozen solid, is a good time to move clematis. Cut down most top growth, dig out the root and re-plant it a couple of inches deeper and water well into its new home.
Move less hardy types such as the Florida Group which are in pots into a sheltered spot to avoid them getting waterlogged over the winter. Younger plants of that type that are in the ground can be covered with some bubble wrap or fleece to protect from the worst of the weather. But do add a few slug pellets before covering.
Any growth that has suffered badly from mildew can be cut off to reduce the risk of it affecting the plant next year.