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fertilizing clematis

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fertilizing clematis

Postby haili » Apr 21, 2008 7:37 am

To fertilize or not - that is the question? I top dressed with lots of compost last Nov. and find that the neglected clematis around town do much better than mine. Maybe I overfertilized last year but some of the bottom leaves turned brown and the flowers don't last that long before the earwigs get them. If I fertilize it should probably be soon as the leaves are just starting to open. Any suggestions?
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Postby Stonetown Gardner » Apr 21, 2008 8:29 am

Can I pop in with a clematis questions as well? (Sorry... don't know the answer to the fertilizing question).

I bought a clematis yesterday to plant and grow up over our arbour... only trouble is the arbor is in shade a good chunk of the day. Clematis tag says plant in full sun. Once the vine got big enough it would be in sun, but while it's little, shade.

Should I risk it? Only other suitable spot is the side of the house with a trellis, but I really wanted the arbour covered in a flowering vine.
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Re: fertilizing clematis

Postby A Closet Canuck » Apr 21, 2008 9:45 am

haili wrote:To fertilize or not - that is the question? I top dressed with lots of compost last Nov. and find that the neglected clematis around town do much better than mine. Maybe I overfertilized last year but some of the bottom leaves turned brown and the flowers don't last that long before the earwigs get them. If I fertilize it should probably be soon as the leaves are just starting to open. Any suggestions?


My suggestion is to dig up your clematis, work in LOTS of compost and replant. Clemmies love compost and having enough seems to affect their health through the summer. I have learned this the hard way.

In early Spring, fertilize your clemmies lightly. I use two tablespoons of 10-10-10 scratched into the surface. Starting next year, each Spring give them a shovel of compost.

Hope this helps.
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Postby A Closet Canuck » Apr 21, 2008 9:48 am

Stonetown Gardner wrote:Can I pop in with a clematis questions as well? (Sorry... don't know the answer to the fertilizing question).

I bought a clematis yesterday to plant and grow up over our arbour... only trouble is the arbor is in shade a good chunk of the day. Clematis tag says plant in full sun. Once the vine got big enough it would be in sun, but while it's little, shade.

Should I risk it? Only other suitable spot is the side of the house with a trellis, but I really wanted the arbour covered in a flowering vine.


Clematis love cool feet and sunny tops. If the entire arbor is in shade, your clemmie will struggle and may be more prone to disease. If at least half of the clematis gets full sun, it will do much better.

You might consider other vines that can tolerate some shade, like akebia or climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris).
Trish in Iowa -- -- ..zone 5b or 6a
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------When your feet hit the floor each morning,
---------be the kind of woman about whom

---------the devil says, "[/code]Oh no! She's up!"
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Postby Sharon Bryson » Apr 21, 2008 12:26 pm

dig up your clematis, work in LOTS of compost and replant

Trish....don't you think a top-dressing of compost should work OK? I would be inclined to think digging up the whole plant might do more harm than good.
The compost/10-10-10(or similar) combo should give the boost it needs.
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Postby haili » Apr 21, 2008 3:25 pm

There are too many to dig up, some are quite big and they were planted with good triple mix, and compost. I think just the small amount of fertilizer will be used this year and see what happens as maybe I overdid the fertilizer last year. They got a lot of topdressing with the compost last Nov. Some haven't sprouted yet so I'm thinking I'll wait until they are all starting to grow.
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Postby murphy » Apr 21, 2008 7:52 pm

I would try the clematis on the arbor....if it doesn't do well...move it. I have on that was planted (not by me) on a very shaded side of my house...that maybe gets about one hour of morning sun...it grows around and up around and into the sun. It seems to do well.
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Postby A Closet Canuck » Apr 21, 2008 10:21 pm

Sharon Bryson wrote:
dig up your clematis, work in LOTS of compost and replant

Trish....don't you think a top-dressing of compost should work OK? I would be inclined to think digging up the whole plant might do more harm than good.
The compost/10-10-10(or similar) combo should give the boost it needs.


Hi, Sharon. I top dress my clematis annually with compost. However, I've learned from my own ignorance that if the planting hole wasn't well-prepared by adding lots of compost the clemmie can struggle, depending on the type of soil one has.

It sounded to me like the original planting hole might be suspect. Certainly, one can top dress and see if there is improvement.
Trish in Iowa -- -- ..zone 5b or 6a
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------When your feet hit the floor each morning,
---------be the kind of woman about whom

---------the devil says, "[/code]Oh no! She's up!"
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Postby haili » Apr 22, 2008 7:50 am

Thanks for all the comments. The clematis were all planted with lots of good stuff but it is a difficult site for them with Maple roots and soil that dries out fast. However, some do really well and others not so well and we always get a heatwave when they bloom, then the earwigs attack so it's a challenge to keep them healthy. They are worth it though, when they get going. I had one that was a mass of greenery and not much bloom and eventually dug it out and replaced it with Bees Jubilee which hasn't done much yet. I find that hard to explain except that some are hardier than others.
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Postby A Closet Canuck » Apr 22, 2008 9:13 am

haili wrote:Thanks for all the comments. The clematis were all planted with lots of good stuff but it is a difficult site for them with Maple roots and soil that dries out fast. However, some do really well and others not so well and we always get a heatwave when they bloom, then the earwigs attack so it's a challenge to keep them healthy. They are worth it though, when they get going. I had one that was a mass of greenery and not much bloom and eventually dug it out and replaced it with Bees Jubilee which hasn't done much yet. I find that hard to explain except that some are hardier than others.


Competition from maple roots for nutrients, light and water can be very difficult, as you have observed. Watering enough to keep the maple from robbing the clematis can be more water than clematis should be exposed to. In an ideal world, the clemmies should be moved or the maple tree cut down.
Trish in Iowa -- -- ..zone 5b or 6a
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------When your feet hit the floor each morning,
---------be the kind of woman about whom

---------the devil says, "[/code]Oh no! She's up!"
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