new clematis is 'clump' of root with one shoot w/no green growth

Lynn NevinsApril 22, 2010

I just bought a new clematis 'plant' at Home Depot. It was sealed in a dark plastic bag and upon taking it out, it was essentially a small ball of 'roots', with one growth shoot coming from it. The shoot does not appear very 'alive'....there was no green growth on it at all.

Nonetheless I planted and watered it and am waiting to see what happens. Is this common for this type of plant...that you get it bareroot and er...I guess you'd call it 'dormant' perhaps? Should I necessarily be concerned that there was no green growth when I opened up the package?


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As long as the crown and roots are OK, you do not have to worry about top growth. It will appear eventually. Bareroot Clematis take much more time to grow and get established, but it is doable. Personally, I prefer small potted plants from reputable sellers when I want to save.

The crown has to be 2-4" below the ground surface. Did you plant this Clematis in the garden? It is much better to keep it potted until the rootball is large enough (fills a 1 Gallon pot). Keep the soil moist but not soggy. When your Clematis sends shoots, keep pinching them to stimulate roots and promote branching.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 3:33PM
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Lynn Nevins

Thanks very much Alina. I planted this in a pot...about a 2 gallon pot. What constitutes the 'crown' of the plant....the entire top portion of the plant? I buried the plant to just above the rootball, and left the one stalk that grew out of the rootball exposed to the sun/air. Are you saying that in fact, even all that part....the entire stalk...should be buried under the ground?


    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 4:15PM
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The crown is the top part of the rootball from which the roots spread. Planting it deeper helps to promote multiple basal shoots. It also helps Clematis to survive in case when the top growth is damaged or killed with Clematis wilt. Since the pot space is limited, you can plant it 1-2" below the soil level. Just make sure that you plant it deeper in the garden.
Do not worry about that stalk. It can be buried or exposed depending on its length. Does not matter now. Roots are the most important part for Clematis.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 4:38PM
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Lynn Nevins

OK, got it on the root ball crown thing. Tx.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 4:42PM
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I experimented a few years ago with bareroot clematis and this is what I did: I didn't bury them deeper because I didn't know about that at the time. They did fine, but when they were planted into "permanent" locations they were buried deeper. I believe that the plant should have some green about the soil for photosynthesis. I cannot bring myself to completely bury a clematis. The only way I would do it is if a university held a controlled study and concluded that it made no difference. lol

The roots can easily rot or dry out so watch the moisture in the soil. Dead clematis roots are black. Check out the link to see the color of healthy clematis roots.
I would have soaked the roots for a bit before plant, but I have also not soaked the roots, so I can't tell you how much of an advantage soaking has over not soaking the roots.

Here is a link that might be useful: clematis roots

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 8:43AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I have completely buried multiple Clematis with no problems.

I have had bad experiences with bare roots though and won't buy them again no matter how cheap. There are too many established Clems available for me.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 11:35AM
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katie(Zone 8a NoCA)

Yeah, bare root in those brightly colored packages are a bad deal. I've lost most of the many I have purchased in the past. Give me a clematis in a one gallon container any time, well worth the extra dollars.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 11:48AM
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I NEVER buy a plant that I can't see. I used to get those little packages and got mostly dead and/or unhealthy plants in them. One time I got a package full of peat and nothing else. I couldn't convince the merchant that it had nothing in it so I was out the money. NEVER again. Shop around and find live plants, you'll be better off in the long run.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 5:10PM
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