There is a clematis for every gardener

Find out what your clematis needs
Find out what your clematis needs

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A lot of gardeners get quite upset if their clematis dies of clematis wilt but did you know the majority of the plants don’t suffer from this problem? It’s only the Jackman group and the Jackman hybrids which are badly affected. The other types are not susceptible.

Everyone has a place for a clematis. It can even be grown with other plants in a deep tub. They all love being able to climb up into the sunshine and they must all enjoy their roots being in the shade so that the roots can always find water and nutrients.

To be honest, the most likely reason to lose a clematis is lack of a thorough drink. They adore water all spring and summer but must have well-drained soil in winter. If it was possible to plant half their roots in a pond and the other half in nice well-drained chalky soil, you would have found heaven for clematis.

There are some which are evergreen varieties too. They don’t have massive flowers but look attractive all winter so look out for Clematis Armandii, with it’s lovely small, white flower clusters in April and May, or the fern leafed clematis, Clematis Balearica, which has ivory white flowers during the late winter set off by bronzed foliage. One of my favourite deciduous types is Ernest Markham, which has dusky red flowers more than five inches across and flowers in June then from August until October and is one of the most reliable ones for anyone who finds these gems difficult to grow.

Another one which is easy to grow is Clematis Viticella ‘Etoile Violette’. This is superb growing up a pergola pole or on a square trellis, rather than up a wall. The reason for this is that the leaf shapes are very narrow and catch the sunlight and breeze in a spectacular way.

If you would really like to spend days hunting around for one which no-one else seems to have, then look out for Clematis Orientalis ‘Orange Peel’. The foliage is a grey green but the blooms on all the genus are just like orange peel, cut into four.

If you have the problem of having to cover something awful in the garden, don’t forget the Clematis Montana. It smothers everything in about three years.

When planting all the clematis remember they like a chalky soil and enjoy a deep root run so that they can send deep roots to obtain that water. If the soil in your garden is acid, add a cupful of ground chalk when planting.

They all like to be planted two inches deeper than they were in the pot. This will also help susceptible varieties to combat wilt.

If you should see wilt on susceptible varieties, cut the wilted wood right out straight away, give them two gallons of systemic fungicide diluted in water and in nine cases out of 10, the plant will commence growing again from underneath the soil.