How to Grow Clematis in Containers
How to Grow Clematis in Pots
Clematis plants are tall, bushy vines that require a good deal of space. As a result, many novice gardeners may hesitate to plant them inside pots and other containers. Potted clematis need more care and attention than clematis grown in a garden, but as long as you plant this flowering vine in a large container filled with rich potting mix, and provide the vine with ample support as it grows, you should be able to get your clematis to live strongly for several years.
Choose a slow-growing variety.Vigorous varieties, like the "Montana," require too much room for their roots to grow, making container planting a disaster. Look for varieties including "Bees Jubilee," "Carnaby," "Dawn," "Fireworks," "Lady Northcliffe," and "Royalty," among several others.
Select a large pot.Conventional wisdom states that clematis need a container with a minimum diameter of 18 inches (45.7 cm). Even small clematis can reach heights of 6 feet (1.8 m), and the roots that accompany such a tall plant need plenty of room to spread out.
Use a pot that offers plenty of drainage.Clematis need to have cool, moist roots, but too much water can quickly turn into a problem, especially during cooler weather. If the pot you select does not have at least three drainage holes already, drill a few into the bottom.
Be mindful of the material your pot is made of.Each material has its own pluses and minuses.
- Terra cotta pots keep the soil well drained, but they are also heavy and likely to crack during the winter until kept indoors.
- Stone pots can last through a variety of temperatures, but they are often even heavier than clay pots.
- Plastic pots do not drain water quite as well, but they are light and fairly durable.
- Containers made of treated wood offer a good balance between durability, weight, and drainage, especially if they have an inner lining made of tin designed to preserve the wood longer.
Plan on planting your clematis during the late summer or early autumn.This will give the plant plenty of time to get comfortable before becoming dormant over the winter. By summer of the following year, it should produce a few flowers.
Place a layer of broken clay pots, also known as crocks, in the bottom of the pot.Stones or gravel may also be used. These materials prevent the drainage holes from getting clogged with potting mix, creating better drainage conditions as a result.
- You can find most of these materials at a garden supply store, but if you are unable to locate them, you can also collect stones from a nearby creek or use a hammer to break an old clay pot into pieces. If collecting these materials from nature, though, you should sterilize them by soaking them in hot soapy water, or in a solution made with one part bleach and four parts water.
Add a nutrient-rich layer of rotted turf.Rotted turf can be obtained by digging up a patch of grass and soil, dumping it into a spare pot, and soaking it for several days. Place the turf upside-down on top of the crocks. Alternatively, you can also use rotted farm manure or garden compost. These materials may be easier to find at garden or farming supply stores. Regardless of what you choose, these materials should all be kept away from the clematis root ball, however, since bacteria and insect eggs could be lurking inside the rot and could cause problems to the newly growing plant.
Fill the rest of the container with potting compost.Loam-based compost works best because it retains moisture more effectively than loam-free compost. Moreover, clematis need a rich soil filled with nutrients, making a compost-based potting mix essential.
Pack the compost down firmly.Clematis roots can grow in tightly packed soil, and the firmer you pack it in, the less it will sink upon being watered. Ideally, the top of your soil will only be 2 inches (5.1 cm) below the rim of the container.
Drench the root ball in water.Fill a bucket with lukewarm water and allow the root ball to soak in the water for 10 to 20 minutes. You will need to fill the bucket with around one gallon of water for every inch in diameter of the root ball. This should be done before you plant it, since you want to make sure that the root ball is thoroughly drenched.
Dig out enough compost to fit the root ball using a garden trowel.When the hole seems just big enough for the root ball to fit, dig out an additional 2 inches (5.1 cm) of compost. The root ball needs these extra few inches of "wiggle room" in order to thrive.
Place the root ball in the hole.Verify that the top of the root ball is two inches below the surface.
Fill the hole in with compost.Tightly pack the compost around the root ball, making sure that it remains firmly fixed in place.
Drench the soil.The compost does not need to be saturated to the point of puddling, but it should feel notably damp upon being touched.
Check your clematis every day to determine whether or not the soil is moist enough.Stick your finger into the top inch of the soil. If it feels dry, give your plant another healthy dousing of water.
Place the pot in a location that receives partial sun.Clematis only need about six hours of direct sun per day, and they prefer to have their roots in shade. Placing the clematis near an eastern or western window, or in a shady spot on your deck or patio, should provide sufficient light.
Fertilize your clematis in the spring with high quality compost or a granular fertilizer like 10–20–10.The amount of fertilizer you add after that will vary based on the type you use. A rose fertilizer a month or two apart should provide enough nutrients, or you could give the plant a liquid fertilizer high in potash two to three times a month. Too much fertilizer can cause harmful salts to build up in the soil, however, so you must monitor your plant to determine if it is still healthy.
- The label "10-20-10" refers to the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen produces leaves, phosphorus strengthens the roots, and potassium helps flower growth. The fertilizer you choose should be balanced in nitrogen and potassium with a slightly higher content of phosphorus.
Provide the clematis with ample support.Once the vine starts growing, insert a bamboo cane or thick stake at a slight angle into the pot, getting it as close to the side of the pot as possible to avoid disrupting their roots. As the vines grow, gently tie them onto the cane using twine or yarn. Proper vertical support will allow your clematis to become bushier and taller, leading to more foliage and a greater amount of flowering.
Prune your clematis accordingly.There are three types of clematis, and each has its own pruning requirements.
- For clematis that bloom early on the previous year's growth, you should remove all the dead and weak stems as soon as the plant flowers.
- For clematis that bloom between mid and late summer on old and new growth you should only remove dead growth once the plant gets crowded.
- For clematis that bloom between mid and late summer on new growth alone, you should remove all growth from the previous year, only leaving the lowest pair of buds.
Watch out for signs of fungi.Clematis wilt and leaf spot are the two most common diseases faced by this plant. Infected stems should be removed, and the remaining plant should be treated with fungicide.
QuestionWhy does my clematis go scraggy and leaves deaden at the bottom?Top AnswererMost likely, your clematis is the victim of a fungus. The best treatment is to remove the first 5 cm (2") of dirt and cut the plant under the dead part.Thanks!
QuestionDo I grow my clematis up one or more canes?Top AnswererClematis can grow on one cane, but you can use more canes to have a better result. To stimulate the flowering, place the canes facing the south.Thanks!
QuestionHow often should I water my Anabelle Clematis in a pot? I'm afraid I'm going to over-water it.Top AnswererYou have to make a hole at the bottom of the pot to let the excess water flow. The soil must always be humid. You can place a rock or a tile near the roots to keep them fresh.Thanks!
- Clematis plants are notably sensitive to cycles of freezing and refreezing. If you plan on keeping the plant outdoors during the winter, you should cover it with mulch after the first freeze. The soil and roots can stay frozen, but continual freezing, thawing, and refreezing can shock the roots and damage the plant on a long-term basis.
Video: How to plant clematis in containers
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