Whichever way you pronounce it, it is one of my favorite flowering vines, and I am excited to introduce it to you!
Clematis, in nature, germinate their seed in the shade of other plants, and climb into the sun, keeping their roots in more cool temperatures. Hence, the adage “tops in the sun, roots in the shade”. This can be accomplished by planting a shrub to shade the roots (Liriope works well), or even by placing a large flat stone over the root area. A thick layer of mulch also works, as long as the mulch is pulled away from the stems to prevent stem and crown rot.
Generally, I prefer planting these vines in about 6 hours of sun. I find planting the vines on an east exposure helps to prevent the sun and wind from drying out the blooms. Some varieties are adapted to partial shade, but all will benefit from some afternoon shade in the heat of Central Texas summers!
Clematis are deep-rooted, so water thoroughly when you do water.
With Clematis, there is a lot of confusion about pruning. Successful pruning is determined by bloom period.
Group 1, or early-season-flowering Clematis flower on old wood. They require no pruning except to control size.
Group 2 bloom first on old wood and then again on new. Prune lightly in spring to shape, remove weak growth, then prune after bloom if desired. Most of our clematis fall into this category.
Group 3 plants flower on new growth and can be cut back to 12” in the early spring.
Newly planted Clematis should be kept pruned to 18”-24” the first year to allow the top growth and root growth to develop proportionately. Allowing the plant to produce one long spindly vine will take years to establish and produce heavy blooms. Pruning the first year also allows the plant to develop from multiple stems and buds from below ground. The future rewards are worth it!!
Clematis tend to be heavy feeders, and timing of fertilizer application is important. Feed Clematis when already in bloom, and the flowers will likely abort. Fertilizing in early spring before the buds start to swell is the best time to apply fertilizer. Organic compost is an excellent choice for this plant, or even a liquid fertilizer such as Fox Farm’s Tiger Bloom, or John’s Recipe liquid fertilizer.
The four-inch flowers of ‘Earnest Markham’ has excellent flower production. Some of my other favorites are ‘Pink Champagne’, ‘Nellie Moser’, ‘Jackmannii’ and ‘Niobe’. For a slightly different look, the fall blooming, rampant growing and fragrant ‘Sweet Autumn’ Clematis or the spring blooming, fragrant Evergreen Clematis are show-stoppers, too!