Gardening: Clematis … KLEM-uh-tis … kle-MAT-tis

Few things in gardening are as controversial as to how to properly pronounce clematis.

Clematis ‘Niobe’.

Clematis ‘Niobe’.

Few things in gardening are as controversial as to how to properly pronounce clematis, and trying to convince some people that both versions are perfectly acceptable is a lot like flogging a dead parrot.

In my experience, the instigators are almost always persons of British descent, so I have developed a personal defense mechanism using a little bit of their own culture, specifically Monty Python’s Flying Circus. So the next time you correct my kle-MAT-tis and see me grinning your way, please keep in mind that I’m envisioning you with John Cleese’s head and a dead parrot in hand, throwing a big fit, just consider it my quirky way of coping with your grammatical insolence.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s talk about how to grow the world’s most popular flowering vine.

Clematis has been a garden favourite for centuries now and many of the best-selling cultivars today are well over a hundred years old, including ‘Nelly Moser’ (1897), ‘Ville de Lyon’ (1899), ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’ (1874), ‘Star of India’ (1871) and the venerable ‘Jackmanii’ (1862).

That’s not to say that there’s nothing new in clematis. This year brought us Raymond Evison’s Flora collection, Clematis BIJOU and FILIGREE, both of which have standard-sized blooms and an ultra-compact (only 30 centimetres  high) growth habit suitable for smaller containers and even hanging baskets.

Regular clematis varieties can also be grown in containers, but you should consider 60cm x 60cm x 60cm as a minimum size and be sure to provide some sort of support, such as a mini-trellis or obelisk. The pot will have to have adequate drainage and you will need a rich planting medium, such as the Sea Soil container blends. Choose a shorter cultivar for growing in containers, such as ‘Niobe’ (deep ruby-red), Multi Blue (ruffled stamens), ‘Mrs. N Thompson’ (purple with a red bar) or ‘Proteus’ (double lilac).

For those of you looking for those shed-smothering varieties, try Clematis terniflora (Sweet Autumn Clematis), Clematis montana ‘Freda’ (bronze-red foliage) or Clematis tangutica, with its nodding yellow summer flowers.

Pruning clematis can be a bit confusing for some, as they are classed into three pruning groups: A, B and C.

A clematis bloom only on last year’s wood and should have dead or weak stems removed after flowering, usually in May or June.

Group B1 flower both on last year’s wood (in May-June) and again in September – these can be pruned in late February or early March by leaving some stems intact (to bloom early) and cutting others back (to bloom later).

Both B2 and C groups flower continuously from June to September and can be pruned in late February to early March by cutting them down to two sets of strong buds.

If you are not sure which pruning group to use, just take note of when your clematis blooms and remember that almost all doubles and large bicolor types (such as ‘Bees Jubilee’) are in the B1 group.

The second most common question I receive about clematis is about which ones grow in deep shade, and while many garden guides list a number of them (such as ‘Jackmanii’), the resulting flower display is rather lacklustre and the vines are almost always leggy. The exception here are two species (and their cultivars): clematis alpina and macropetala, which seem to flower well in sun or shade with their distinct nodding blooms and easy to manage short stature (average of three metres tall).

 

Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author (hebe_acer@hotmail.com).

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker at his former law office. (News files)
UPDATE: Becker suspended from practising law for 14 months

Statement from former Pitt Meadows Mayor says anxiety and depression played role

If you have a letter you’d like to submit to the editor for consideration, please email us at <a href="mailto:editor@mapleridgenews.com"><strong>editor@mapleridgenews.com</strong></a>. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
LETTER: Pointing out an issue is not ‘shaming,’ reader argues

Duncan has been as strong advocate for the community, and hopefully can continue in that role

If you have a letter you’d like to submit to the editor for consideration, please email us at <a href="mailto:editor@mapleridgenews.com"><strong>editor@mapleridgenews.com</strong></a>. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
LETTER: Hair salon discriminates based on gender

Maple Ridge reader wonders if other women share her feelings on the matter

Developers are moving mountains to create a new heli park at Pitt Meadows Airport (Neil Corbett/The News)
New infrastructure at Pitt Meadows Airport

Rebuilt terminal building one of many projects at YPK

Pitt Meadows resident Bruno James de Faria shared a picture of Pitt River Bridge taken from the West Coast Express. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Commute flies by – literally and figuratively

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

A bus shelter in White Rock is emblazoned with an ad from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Black Press Media files)
VIDEO: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Signs asking British Columbians to think about racial injustice have been put up across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism widespread

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan announce $5 billion emergency fund for COVID-19 unemployment and other relief, B.C. legislature, March 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
Carole James stays on to advise B.C. Premier John Horgan

Retired finance minister to earn a dollar a year

A pedestrian makes their way through the snow in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Wild winter, drastic swings in store for Canada this year: Weather Network

In British Columbia and the Prairies, forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels

Most Read