Moving - How to transplant clematis?

cweathersbyJanuary 17, 2008

I will be moving within the year. What would be the best way to transplant my clematis collection? They are all next to trees, how would I get all of the roots? Have any of you had success in moving them?

I am going to try rooting some, but I have only had limited success in rooting them.

There are a few that haven't been planted yet. Is it OK to keep them in pots for another year? The roots keep winding around in the bottom of the pot and it makes me feel like they might strangle themselves!



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carolfm(z7upstate SC)

Carrie, people grow clematis in containers permanently so I am sure that you can keep them in pots for another year but you probably need to move them to bigger pots and give the roots some room to spread out.

I have moved clematis from one spot to another. I just tried to get as much of the root system as I could and then planted them in the spot I had prepared.They didn't miss a beat. I moved them in late winter when they were still dormant and they bloomed in the spring/summer. Were you going to wait and move them once you get moved to your new house or were you going to put them in pots for a while?


    Bookmark   January 17, 2008 at 8:54PM
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Keep in mind that a well-established clematis vine will have a pretty extensive root system. A lot bigger than most people imagine. IME, these are not easily dug and transplanted successfully. And those planted close to trees may be even more difficult to extract without seriously compromising the root system. I'd say your success rate will be about 50-50 at best. It may make more sense to leave the well-established existing vines in place and simply buy new vines for the new home.

Containerized vines can remain so indefinitely, provided you give proper attention. If quite rootbound, potting up to a larger size is always a good idea. I've done it at all times of year but early spring before the vines start pushing new growth (pruning time) is ideal.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 10:40AM
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I was going to wait until the new house is built before trying to transplant them. Who knows, maybe I'll get a years worth of enjoyment out of them before we move.
It just makes me sick to think of leaving them. I've spent so much money on clematis. Much of that money was spent just 1 year ago when it seems I tried to buy every clematis that would do well in the south! Of course, I wasn't planning on moving then.
Buying more at the new house won't be an option because I'm planning on staying at home and we'll be absolutely strapped for money.
Is there a thread somewhere on the BEST way to root clematis? I'm pretty good at getting anything to root, but these are tricky.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 8:09PM
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This is what I found in the FAQ for this forum:

"How do I move or transplant an existing Clematis?
The best time of year to move an existing clematis is while the plant is dormant before the new seasons growth begins - usually in late winter as long as the ground is not frozen. At this time of year the plant's energy is stored in the root system. Prune back the top growth to about 12 to 18 inches and dig at least a 12 inch diameter root ball as deep as possible.
Mature clematis roots can reach 4 feet down into the ground so the more roots you can save, the better. It is best to dig and prepare your new location before you dig up the plant to be transplanted. Dig a large hole, and dig it deeper than needed to make some room for compost or rotted manure in the bottom. You will also want to plant the clematis two to three inches deeper than the old level. One can use a post hole digger tool to get a nice deep hole. It is best to bury one or two pairs of latent buds, leaves and all, so that the plant can sprout from under the ground. It becomes a good insurance planting policy. The buried stem will develop roots.
Before you place the plant into the new hole, throw in a handful or two of bone meal or other fertilizer high in phosphate to aid in root growth (see the FAQ entitled "How to feed a clematis - choosing fertilizers" for more detailed information on the feeding requirements of clematis). Bulbtone, an organic fertilizer, can be added to the hole without fear of burning the roots. Mix the bone meal and fertilizer with compost in the bottom of the hole, fill the hole with water, and place the new plant in it's new home, submerging it in the water. Fill in around the plant with the best compost or enriched top soil you can find, and water it in.

Keep the plant well watered and fertilized the first few years until a deep root system capable of supporting the plant through dry times has had time to develop. It is best to mulch a large area around the base of the plant to keep the soil moist and reduce evaporation. Watering your plant is critical to its survival!

Entered by shannan"

Good luck - let us know how you make out.....


    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 9:49AM
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The above is not bad advice.........except: an established clematis that has a root system that can penetrate 4' (and that's not an exaggeration) into the ground will also have a root system much wider than the 12" recommended root ball. It is just as important to obtain as much of the horizontal spread as it is to dig deeply as the horizontal spread will contain much of the fine feeder roots which are essential for the vine's reestablishment and continued health.

So picture if you can what a correctly dug established clematis vine could look like: a rootball at least 18-24" wide and 30-48" deep. That's a whole lot of soil and roots to attempt to move, especially if transporting any distance - like from one residence to another as opposed to two different locations in the same garden. Obviously, containerizing something of this size will be very difficult.

A younger, less established vine will undoubtedly be easier to dig and with a smaller rootball, but you've got complications added with the competition of the tree roots, which will impede digging a clean rootball. I don't mean to dissuade you entirely from this process, but keep in mind it is not a guaranteed deal by any stretch of the imagination.

If you do attempt to dig and transplant your vines, I'd be inclined to attempt to reproduce them by other means just as a form of added insurance, especially if you have the luxury of some time before the move must be made. I've included a link to a pretty fair overview of other methods of increasing your clems - you might want to give a couple of them a try. Layering is perhaps the easiest, but does require some time. Although most sources recommend doing this in late summer or early fall, I've found that the new growth produced earlier in the season will layer just as readily.

Even though financially challenged with the expense of a new home or whatever, determined gardeners always seem to be able to find a way to obtain the plants they want :-)) You may not be able to afford to purchase all the clems you want immediately, but I bet you'll be able to squeeze out a few bucks here and there to add to your collection. It's amazing how fast foregoing a few lattes or the occasional opting for hamburger rather than steak will add up to a new plant for the garden. Remember the priorities!!

Here is a link that might be useful: clematis propagation

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 10:35AM
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carolfm(z7upstate SC)

Carrie, I know that you are truly not going to have any extra money for a while so I say dig them up, they haven't been in the ground that long and hopefully they will live. If they die you won't have any clematis, if you don't try to take them with you, you won't have any's at least worth trying. I doubt very seriously that I got every single root on the ones I moved and they survived. Do move them when they are dormant, though.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 8:36PM
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Adgerlady(z8 LA)

Carrie, how was your success in moving these clematis?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 11:14AM
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