General Sikorsky and Venosa Violacea

I was amazed to see these clematis bloom so well the first year after planting. That’s General Sikorski on the right and Venosa Violacea in the middle.
Betty Corning clematis

Betty Corning blooms early and has delicate, pendulous, recurved flowers. Look closely and you can see how the leaf stems bend and twist to grab on.

This spring, the clematis on the left (Betty Corning) raced to the top and was blooming by mid-June. The three little yellow shrubs growing at the base are a dwarf Japanese barberry called Golden Nugget.
Wax-coated twine

I use wax-coated twine to make sure that the bulkiest parts of the vine are well-attached to the trellis.

I have yet to meet a clematis I didn’t covet. This means I’m constantly on the lookout for more places to plant them. The tricky thing is, of course, that they need something to climb on.

I have four clematis growing up cedar posts that I’ve encircled with reinforcing wire. Another is growing up twine and twigs at the base of a white birch. A couple are growing up more traditional trellises. That makes seven.

Last spring I made room for three more. We used some panels of cedar lattice to enclose the walkout door from my basement and hide a utilitarian storage area under the deck. Voila! Another clematis-friendly trellis.

Unlike peas, which have tendrils that can be up to 6″ long, clematis must use their leaf stems to climb. It’s sort of like having a little spring between the main stem of the vine and the leaf cluster. This device is somewhat limiting. Twine, poly trellis netting and steel wire work well because they’re thin enough for the spring-like stems to grab onto. (See David’s post last year about how we grow clematis in our display gardens.)

I was concerned that the slats on my new trellis might be too wide for grabbing. But of course I planted the clematis anyway. I chose three very different types. Left to right in the photo, they are: petite and pendulous Clematis viticella ‘Betty Corning’; deep purple and white Clematis viticella ‘Venosa Violacea’; and the giant blue Clematis ‘General Sikorski’.

Turns out they all like this trellis just fine. I do use some waxed twine to secure the bulkiest parts of the vine, at a couple points from top to bottom.

For some general tips, read How to Grow Clematis.

Kathy LaLiberte, Director of Gardening, Gardener’s Supply