Help me make a new clematis plant

Friday, August 17, 2007

With the move less than a month away, it's time to get serious about figuring out how we're going to transfer the perennials from the plot to the new backyard. We'll first move our worldly possessions from apartment to house, and then we'll spend some time designing our new garden. My goal is to get our perennials from here to there all in one piece and in time enough to allow them to settle into the ground before the first frost. We're staying in the same grow zone (USDA Zone 7), so everything that grows here should also grow at the new house.

My Sweet Autumn Clematis is one of the plants I'd like to take to our new home. Actually, it's not "my" clematis; it's Sarah's, the woman who occupied the plot before me. Perhaps it was planted by someone even before her.

I have grown to love that clematis plant as if I'd planted it here with my own two hands. All through the summer it slowly stretches its leafy tendrils, draping a thick green blanket over the fence between the my plot and Elana's. In September that blanket will burst into white -- a snowfall of tiny star-shaped flowers.

Rather than digging out the whole plant, my plan is to start a new one from a cutting. I did some research and learned that clematis plants can be propagated by a process called layering. This means I would have to sink one of the stems (still on the parent plant) into the soil so it could sprout roots. The problem is, none of the branches are close enough to reach the soil; they're all up high on the fence. So I cut a few branches and put them in a glass of water, thinking they would grow roots that way. No such luck. It has been two weeks and no roots have appeared yet. I'm feeling like I need to go to Plan B.

This is where I need your help, fellow gardeners. What is Plan B? What's the best way to start a new clematis plant from a cutting?


Blogger Unknown said...

I'm sorry I haven't an answer to your clematis transplant/cutting/etc. problem, but I just wanted to chime in about the wonderful beauty of 'sweet autumn'. One of those has grown at my mother's house in northern California for as long as I can remember and every year it is a marvel. Here's best wishes for getting it to make the jump to new territory!

8:14 PM  
Blogger My Chutney Garden said...

Don't know if this is completely off but have you tried a direct cutting?
I find that if a plant grows from layering it will probably grow by piece. Can't hurt to try. Cut a fairly woody or mature stem, remove leaves, dip end in rooting powder and put into 1/2 potting mix, 1/2 soil. Place in shaded area and keep moist.
This works for me but we are tropical so I don't know if that makes it any easier.Hope it works.

10:34 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Try My Chutney Garden's idea of the rooting hormone powder. It is available at most garden center stores. I would suggest using a green--not woody--stem to try dipping in the powder then planting. Try to make sure that you get a leaf joint under the soil, as that is where the roots are most likely to first grow. Good luck!

11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, you could get one of those garden pots (the long rectangular kind) fill it with soil and hang it on the top bar of the fence. Then you could still do the layering method, you've just brought the soil up to the plant instead of the plant to the soil! And the bonus would be that when the stem has rooted, snip snip, once you've cut it away, your new plant is already in a pot, ready for the move!

I'm excited for you. Can you tell?
Please do tell us what you try.

12:45 AM  
Blogger RUTH said...

Unlike many plants Clematis cutting should be internodal...i.e. leave a piece of stem below the node. Push into an open compost...right up to the leaf (don't leave too much growth above this), water in and cover (half an old coke bottle or in a plastic bag...don't let the plastic touch the plants); leave in a warm shady place. I wonder if your neighbour would let you try and layer one on her side of the fence (maybe nature has even layered some itself near the main plant)

3:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

also grab some of the seeds after they bloom. I have one and it self-seeds like CRAZY. So if your rooting efforts don't work, look around the parent plant for babies in the spring (or now!)

11:39 AM  
Blogger Muum said...

I don't have any advice, just chiming in to say, 'I love that plant' ! I think I will look for some of that, too.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Rosengeranium said...

And me, being in essence a mad scientist, would try out all the tips above, lable them carefully and keep a log... :-)

4:37 AM  
Blogger Christa said...

Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions. I bought some rooting powder yesterday and I'm going to set up a few experiments today. :-)

11:53 AM  
Blogger lawremc said...

The serious clematis folks at the International Clematis Society have an extensive discussion on their website.

One key they mention is to use a soilless mix--peat and sand. They also suggest covering top surface with a builders sand to reduce disease potential.

Let us know how it does. I love this plant and would love to make my one into many more.

Really enjoy your blog.

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have(had?) two 7 year old sweet autumn clematis' growing up and covering our back pergola. I live in OK and this June we had a ton of rain- there were only 6 days that it didn't rain. I think the clematis are dead. All the leaves have turned brown, but they haven't fallen off. They sure look dead and I'm just sick about it. Does anyone know how to tell for sure? Thanks.

12:22 PM  
Blogger TYRA Hallsénius Lindhe said...

Just cut several 30 cm pieces and put all of them together but apart into a pot with moist soil. leave them outside and forget them until next year! You could prepare them with hormons. Good luck

3:39 AM  
Blogger Almost Vegetarian said...

Hmmm. Rooting powder might do the trick. Or, if you don't have any, try just putting some good cuttings in a pot with good, rich, moist soil.


11:50 AM  
Blogger Rowena said...

Well, I wouldn't know where to start on this one, but from the looks of it there's a whole lot of gardeners out there who do!

I just had to stop by to say how tickled I was upon reading the I am woman, watch me mow post. My husband didn't want to get a gas one but opted for a small electric-powered mower (the funkiest thing) rather than a reel mower which was more expensive! We work in tandem...he cuts the lawn while I give and take up slack on the extension cord. I guess you could say that we're both responsible for lawn duty. heh heh ;-)

3:18 PM  
Blogger My Chutney Garden said...

Really weird and dumb question- does anyone know if clematis will grow in my climate? Really hot (32-34cel) all year with heavy rain for six months.
We don't have it here and I'm wondering how come? Now that everyone says that they love it so much- I wnat one. I'm ashamed to say I've never even seen one. Here in the tropics, our fence posts often root. But don't even try to grow roses.

9:45 PM  
Blogger Christa said...

Hi, My Chutney Garden,
I'm not sure if this would grow well in tropical climates. I hope someone else can answer your question.

Mine does well in our hot and humid summers, but in very dry conditions. I never give it any extra water. Also, in the winter it dies back and then revives again in the spring. I wonder if it needs that cold period of hibernation to do well? Maybe that is a reason you don't see it in the tropics?

5:42 PM  
Blogger Ellicott City Gardener said...

Clematis terniflora is a non-native that spreads mightily and is considered invasive in some states (not yet in Maryland but that day may come soon). Please consider carefully if you truly want this plant in your yard. Lots of folks out there would love to get RID of this plant in their yards! You might want to consider the native Clematis virginiana instead.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Dirty Fingernails said...

I have had good luck rooting clematis in water.. I have had 100% luck with what I have done..

5:08 PM  
Blogger Christa said...

Dirty Fingernails,
How long did you leave yours in water before it sprouted roots? I've had a cutting in water for a month now and still nothing. Just curious how long it takes.

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sweet autumn will self seed everywhere it falls!

5:15 PM  

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