Evergreen Clematis Care: Growing Evergreen Clematis Vines In The Garden
Evergreen Clematis Care: Growing Evergreen Clematis Vines In The Garden
The Evergreens are a family of plants native to North America and Europe. They have been cultivated since ancient times. The genus name Armillaria means “tree of the arms” because they resemble tree trunks with leaves.
They are often referred to as the American Oak or the European Ash. Their woody stems and leaves make them very attractive for use in landscaping, but their cold hardiness makes them ideal for containers.
Their flowers are white, pink, purple or yellow and grow from a single point at the top of each branch. There are many varieties of evergreen clematis, but all of them bear fruit.
In fact, some species produce two kinds of fruits: one edible and another poisonous.
There are several types of evergreen clematis: those that produce edible fruit and those that do not. Some species are hardier than others when it comes to cold weather; some tolerate frost better than others; some can withstand drought better than others.
Evergreen clematis plants can be very difficult to grow in areas with constant rainfall; they prefer well-drained soil and thrive in dry conditions. In colder areas, they are often grown in containers and brought inside during the winter months.
Evergreen clematis vine plants are not as common as other varieties of clematis plants, but if you live in a colder climate or have limited growing space, they can make a beautiful addition to your garden.
You can buy Evergreen clematis online at Amazon
They are not as common as other varieties of clematis plants, but if you live in a colder climate or have limited growing space, they can make a beautiful addition to your garden.
Evergreen Clematis – History of Evergreen Clematis
The word “clematis” is from the ancient Greek word “klema”, meaning “vine”. The plant has been known by different names throughout various regions in the world, including winfreth in Old English and trellis vine in American English.
They are vines that have been made into popular garden plants because of their beauty and cold hardiness. The flowers come in a wide range of colors, including white, pink, purple and blue.
In some cases, the flower petals are so small that they appear white from afar. The flowers will grow in bunches called “spikes”, and each bunch can contain several flowers.
The leaves of a clematis plant are usually evergreen. The foliage is also where medical compounds can be found in some species, such as “vines”.
The vines of the clematis plant are very strong and can be used for a variety of things. In some areas, the vines can be used for making good-quality ropes.
During the 1800’s, in southern England, the leaves were used to make an herbal medicine called “clematis tablets”, and they were sold as a medication to treat stomach problems.
Evergreen Clematis – Evergreen Clematis Plant Care
Evergreen clematis are easy to grow plants that can be grown in containers or in the ground. They can be planted directly into the ground, but container-grown clematis usually do better than their in-ground counterparts.
When planting your clematis into a flower garden or other growing area, it’s best to give the plants adequate spacing so that they have enough room to grow. Most gardeners have the best luck when they space their plants at least a few feet away from other plants and structures.
When planting clematis into large growing areas like a field or fence line, consider using trellises, arbors, fences or other vertical growing media to give your plants something to cling to. This will make it easier for the vines to reach sunlight and grow.
If you live in warmer or hotter areas, it’s best not to plant your clematis in the sun all day long. The plants can easily sunburn if they are not given some shade from the hot sun.
It’s better to plant your clematis some place with dappled sunlight or early morning sun and then give the plants some shelter from the afternoon sun.
The soil that you choose to grow your clematis plants in is also very important. Clematis plants need well-draining soil, so it’s best to mix some organic matter into the native soil before you plant.
Once you have your plants in the ground, be sure to keep the growing area free of weeds. Weeds can easily overtake a clematis plant and deprive it of the essential nutrients and water that it needs.
Evergreen Clematis – Red and Brown Evergreen Clematis
Evergreen clematis flowers should be deadheaded as soon as the flowers fade. If the seed heads are not removed, they may develop into viable seed, which can be spread by birds and other wildlife. This is especially important if you are growing your clematis in an area where it is not native.
Evergreen clematis can be pruned anytime. In fact, many gardeners feel that it’s best to prune the plants at least once each year, during the growing season.
When you prune your clematis, the best time to do it is in mid-summer or early fall. At this time of the year, the plant has had plenty of time to harden off for winter. This also gives the plant plenty of time to regrow before spring and to prepare for its flowering season.
When you are finished pruning, be sure to clear away all of the trimmings from the plants.
Evergreen Clematis – Evergreen Clematis Foliage
If you want to start your own clematis plants from seeds, be aware that it’s a long process. First, the seeds need to be cold-stratified in order to get them to germinate. This means that the seeds must be exposed to fluctuating wet and dry periods as well as fluctuating temperatures between 32 and 40 degrees.
Next, the seeds need to be sown in a sterile medium like coarse sand.
Once the seeds are in the sand, they need to be lightly covered and then placed in a covered container. You want to keep the medium moist but not wet and you also want to keep it free of fungal diseases.
It typically takes several weeks to months for the clematis seeds to germinate.
Outdoor Growing Clematis
When planting clematis outdoors, you need to be sure to plant them where they are going to be happy. They are not very picky plants, but they do have some preferences.
Ideally, you should plant your clematis in an area that is partially shaded. While the plants can get by with full sun, they will not thrive in these conditions.
Plant your clematis in partial shade and they will reward you with lush foliage and an abundance of flowers.
In addition to providing partial shade for your clematis plants, you also need to be sure to plant them in an area that does not have compacted soil.
If the soil is compacted, the roots will not be able to spread out and thrive. Instead, they will continue to grow along the surface of the soil in an effort to find nourishment.
As you can imagine, this will cause the plant to become unnaturally top heavy and will greatly reduce the number of flowers that it will produce.
Also, be sure to choose a part of your garden that does not have large amounts of standing water. Again, this will make it difficult for the roots to spread out and will cause the plant to become top heavy.
While clematis plants can tolerate partial shade, they prefer sunnier locations. Again, they can grow in these conditions, but they will not be as lush and as productive as plants in a partially shady location.
Also, you need to make sure that the soil is well drained. Clematis do not like wet feet and will suffer if subjected to constant moisture.
Do not over water your clematis, especially at the beginning of the growing season. They are very tolerant of drought once they have become established.
In fact, it is better to err on the dry side than to over water.
The big secret to growing clematis is to make sure that the plants never experience nutrient deficiencies. This means that you need to keep the soil properly balanced at all times. This will ensure that your plants are healthy and vigorous.
Renew Your Clematis Plant
When your clematis plant starts to decline in vigor and appearance, you need to take steps to renew it. Over time, the soil will no longer be able to support the plants that it is hosting.
In order to give your clematis a new lease on life, you need to dig it up and divide the root ball in two. This can be done with a spade or even by hand if need be.
When the root mass has been divided into two, you can either replant it immediately or store it in a cool dry location for a short period of time. If you expect rain within the next few days, you should mulch the root ball and keep it in an open location until it is ready to be planted.
If you have decided to store the clematis roots temporarily, make sure that they are not exposed to excessive moisture or sun. Keep them in a shaded dry location until it is time to plant them.
If you haven’t done so already, make sure that you have prepared the planting area ahead of time. Clematis do not like to be moved so you need to make sure that you have the right spot picked out for your plants.
When planting your clematis, be sure to cover the roots with soil. Firm the soil around the root ball and make sure it is stable. Water it well after planting.
Continue to keep the soil around the clematis plants well mulched and watered until they become established in their new locations. Be sure to give them the right amount of nutrition.
Once your clematis plants are well rooted into their new locations, you can prune them back to encourage more branching and more flowers next season.
The extended flowering period will more than make up for the time and effort that you put into your renewal process.
Problems with your Clematis
It seems that no matter what type of plant you own, you will always eventually have problems with it. This holds true with clematis as well. While these plants are relatively free from major insect pests and diseases, they do have some problems that you need to be aware of.
It is much easier to prevent a potential problem than it is to correct one that already exists. So it is always a good idea to scout your clematis on a regular basis in order to catch a potential problem before it becomes out of hand.
There are several problems that can occur with your clematis and some of them can be cured easily if you are diligent in your care.
One of the most common problems with clematis is the appearance of fuzzy brown leaf spots. These spots will spread if not treated and can lead to defoliation of your plant.
These spots are the result of fungi infection and are caused by a lack of air movement around the leaves. To prevent these conditions, be sure to prune away any dead or diseased foliage immediately.
Be sure to water your plant early in the day so that the foliage has a chance to dry before nighttime. If your plant is in a shady location, try moving it to a more open area. This increased air flow around the leaves will help prevent infection.
If you catch the disease early enough, you may be able to cure it by spraying the infected leaves and stems with a solution of one part milk and nine parts water.
Another disease that can attack your clematis is called gray mold. It starts out as a fuzzy gray growth on the stems and undersides of the leaves. Eventually, it will spread to other parts of the plant and can cause complete defoliation if left untreated.
This disease thrives in cool damp conditions with poor air flow. Similar treatment as above will help prevent it. In addition, you can try spraying the leaves and stems with a solution of one part milk and nine parts water.
Yet another fungus that targets your clematis is called petal blight. It starts out as small dark spots on the petals that spread until the entire petal is blackened and dead looking.
These diseased petals will eventually fall off of the plant leaving undesirable bare spots. Dusty conditions along with low nectar and pollen reserves seem to trigger this problem.
As with the other diseases, increased air flow and proper watering should help prevent it. You can also try creating better conditions by cutting back on fertilizer and allowing the plants to go completely dormant over the winter.
If your clematis is already infected, you can try spraying it with a baking soda solution (one tablespoon of baking soda to one gallon of water). Make sure that you thoroughly wet the leaves and petals, but do not soak them as this could cause fungal diseases to spread even more quickly.
A similar problem to petal blight is called black heart. It starts out as small brown spots on the inner part of the clematis heart. These spots will slowly grow until the entire organ has turned completely black. The entire leaf will eventually turn black and die off. There is no known cure for this disease.
Aphids and scale are two insects that can plague your clematis. They weaken the plant and prevent it from reaching its full potential. Both of these pests are prevented and treated in the same way – by maintaining a strong healthy plant.
Plant diseases and insect infestations are usually the result of allowing your clematis to become unhealthy in some way. Keeping your plant properly fed and watered, giving it the right amount of sunlight and maintaining general garden health will help prevent these problems.
If you have a problem with plant disease or insects, the best solution is to solve the problem at the root (so to speak) and make corrections to how you have been caring for your clematis. Make sure that you are fertilizing it properly. Feed your clematis a slow release fertilizer throughout the growing season.
Make sure that the soil is well drained and that you are allowing the top few inches to dry out between waterings. Water early in the day so that the foliage has a chance to dry before nighttime. Watch the leaves and stems of your clematis for signs of water stress such as curling, flaking or even sunburn (leaves will lean towards the sun if they are trying to get enough light).
Excessive nitrogen will result in lush green foliage, but poor flowering. A soil test from your local county extension office will let you know if you need to add fertilizer or woods soil to your garden soil.
Clematis tend to be shallow rooted plants. Be sure to fertilize the entire garden – including pathways – because clematis have a tendency to wander. You will get the best bloom if you fertilize in the early part of the growing season.
Use slow release pellets that feed your plant over the course of the growing season. Avoid high phosphate fertilizers as they tend to produce lots of foliage and few flowers.
A healthy clematis will be a more resilient plant able to withstand pest and disease attacks. Your clematis will also be able to fight off diseases and pests better than anything treated with pesticides or chemicals.
If you have a clematis that has become infested with insects or disease, it’s best to just discard it and not pass on the problem to your other clematis.
Don’t be afraid to prune your clematis. In fact, many gardeners feel that pruning is just as important as any other care you give your garden. Most clematis are at their best when they are allowed to sprawl along the ground. If you have a vine that you would prefer to be climbing, you will need to prune it back hard almost every year just after blooming season.
The exception to this pruning would be the vines that cling or ramble. These can be tip pruned just as you would a standard climbing rose, but most of these are not prolific bloomers and will require tip-pruning every few years to force new growth and more flowers.
Pruning will also help to prevent disease and keep your clematis from getting “leggy”. Most clematis do not take well to hard pruning and will respond better if only one third of the stems are pruned each year.
If you have a clematis that is growing outside its designated space, it’s best to just let it grow. These creeping varieties will bloom better if they have lots of foliage and will actually flower better if allowed to flower on the ground rather than being forced to climb.
Your vining clematis will benefit from a good dousing of water or even mulch if you are using a heavy organic mulch like manure or pine needles. Very thick layer of gravel used as a base for large shrubs should be tossed on the heap as well. Never use lawn clippings as these contain weed seeds and will only waste your time (and yard space).
Bulbs should be planted in fall – or as soon as you get them in the mail! They will need to be kept cool and dark until you plant them, so the refrigerator is the perfect place.
When planting your clematis, be sure to follow the directions on the seed packet or plant label. Most seeds will need to be covered with soil no more than 1/4 inch thick. Firm the soil and lightly water. Keep soil moist but not wet until seedlings reach six inches high.
Most clematis like acid soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5, but some – like C. montana – prefer more alkaline soil (7.0-8.0), so be sure to check the information that comes with your plants and adjust your soil before planting if necessary.
Once you have planted your clematis, keep the area well weeded. Clematis don’t like competition, and weeds will deprive them of water and nutrients.
Keep the area free of leaves and other debris in the fall to allow the sun to reach the plants.
Water regularly – don’t let the soil dry out. In sandy soil, water weekly; in heavy clay, water only when the top inch or so is dry. Mulch heavily around plants in sandy soil to prevent excessive watering.
Fertilize in early spring only, before new growth starts. Clematis are not heavy feeders and respond poorly to high-nitrogen fertilizers.
Prune immediately after flowering to keep the vine from getting woody and to encourage side shoots to form – this helps keep the vine from getting too long and leggy and results in more flowers and a healthier plant. Cut back hard to just above where the new buds are located on the stems.
If seeding, clematis should be allowed to dry out completely before their seed heads are harvested. Dry the seed heads in a paper bag and place in the refrigerator until they are completely dry. Clean and store them for next spring.
Dealing with Clematis Wilt
Stressed plants are more susceptible to insects and disease – so it is important to keep your clematis looking healthy. Clematis wilt, a fungal disease, will cause yellowing of the leaves and leaf drop. It will quickly spread through the plant if not treated immediately.
Immediately after watering, apply a thin coat of neem oil to the leaves and stems or spray with neem oil diluted in water. Mix 1 tsp. of neem oil in one gallon of water and apply to clematis a few times through the season when they are not in active growth.
More information about this and other clematis problems can be found at the Clematis Society of America website: clematis.org.
While these plants are fun, attractive and easy to care for, you may not want them in your garden if:
You have deer, rabbits, groundhogs or other herbivores that like to eat the leaves of these plants.
You have children or pets that like to eat the berries of these plants (yes, those cute little red berries are produce by the deadly nightshade family).
If you still want these plants in your life, here are some great choices.
Clematis ‘Bouquet Blanc’
From the tropical evergreen family, this climbing vine is perfect for fences or arbors and blooms from spring to fall with white flowers.
It grow to 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide and can be grown outdoors in Zones 9-11 or grown as a houseplant elsewhere.
Grows in sun to part shade.
Grow in fertile, well-drained soil.
Requires little maintenance other than pinching it back in the spring to keep it from getting leggy and to promote branching.
Cut off bloomed stems after blooming to encourage re-blooming.
Neutral on toxicity – edible but not recommended because of small size of plants.
Cultivars of poisonous nightshade, such as ‘Poison Leaf’ and ‘Brunette’, are great if you like the burgundy foliage but don’t give much in the way of flowers.
Like Clematis ‘Bouquet Blanc’, this climbing vine prefers part shade to full sun and grows best in Zones 8-10.
With large, white flowers and dark green leaves, it gives a lovely display all season.
It can reach a height of 15 feet but can be pruned back earlier in the year to keep its size under control.
As with all clematis, it likes well-drained soil and does not like to have wet feet.
Sources & references used in this article:
Gardening with clematis by L Beutler – 2004 – agris.fao.org
Growing Clematis by C Chesshire – 2004 – Rizzoli International Publications
Use of plant growth regulators to enhance branching of Clematis spp by R Gooch – 1996 – Trafalgar Square Publishing
Pruning evergreens and deciduous trees and shrubs/1033 (rev. Dec. 1971) by CJ Martin – 2008 – hoosiergardener.com
The Clematis as a Garden Flower by JC Raulston – Thirty-Seventh Annual Report