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Alive_Jan_2016

THE DIRT GARDENER THANKS FOR ASKING Q. My wife planted a nameless Clematis last summer. It BUZZ BERTOLERO did really well going along a south facing fence but we don’t know what to do with it now. It's a mass of brown leaves and tangled up tendrils. Should we cut it down really short and try to remove as many of those crunchy leaves and hope for the best next spring? Clematis is pruned in March so right now I’d wait A. and do nothing. Clematis is pruned based on its blooming habit. There are varieties or types that bloom on the new growth, the old growth and some on both. So, being a nameless variety is a problem. I’m going to assume it was in bloom when you planted it. Summer flowering varieties bloom on the new growth in the spring. This group is the easiest to prune. I’d just cut the vegetation down to the ground and let the new growth generate from the base of the plant. With the spring blooming varieties they’re pruned after the flowers are spent because they’re blooming on last year's old wood. The spent flowers are removed and you trim the growth back to twenty four inches. The balance of the growing season is spent generating new growth that will bloom the following year. If you prune too early, you effectively remove the flowering buds and have no flowers. Those varieties that bloom on both the new and old wood should be given a moderate trimming or shaping, so you don’t lose any promising buds for the summer flowering season. All dead wood should be removed regardless of variety and an annual feeding with a balanced fertilizer is recommended to encouraged the new growth. Once the rainy season has concluded you need to shade the roots from the hot afternoon sun by mulching. A three inch layer of organic matter will help retain moisture and insulate the roots. There is another issue that you need to keep in mind when pruning. A community fence is a poor structure for growing vines as it’s impossible to keep the vegetation confined to your side. So the annual pruning is a safe guard method of keeping the plant under control and avoiding a neighbor dispute. 24 A L I V E E A S T B A Y j a n u a r y 2 0 1 6


Alive_Jan_2016
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