Gardening

Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Let Sleeping Clematis Climb

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome older gardening books recommend taking clematis down off their support for the winter, laying them on the ground and covering them with a thick mulch, the idea being to protect them from the cold. And in the spring, the same books recommend reattaching them to their support.

This method is no longer recommended by clematis specialists. Removing a clematis from its support is a delicate task, as clematis stems are very fragile, and often the plant is damaged. The only fall care today’s experts recommend is deeply mulching the soil in the fall, which is especially necessary if you’re growing a clematis beyond its normal hardiness zone (for example, if you grow a zone 5 clematis in zone 4). Otherwise wait until spring to give them any special care. That would include cutting back any dead branches, which can be applied to any type of clematis. And some clematis (group II types) can likewise be cut back fairly harshly in the spring, as they bloom on new wood, that is, the new sprouts that appear in the spring. Still, other than mulching, there is no need to give clematis any special care in the fall.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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