Walmart Clematis Bulbs?

Shepherd_00June 27, 2012

Hello everyone! I am new to this forum and this is my first post. I have quickly become a clematis enthusiast to the point of annoying my wife with it a bit. I have 8 vines that I have planted in the last year or so around our home and I love them. This year I wanted to do two more and I decided to try these venosa violacea that I bought as a freeze dried (whatever it is) bulb/starter root from Walmart. They were cheaper then any other clematis in town at only $5 each and they were something different then what I had. I thought these purple beauties would look great in front of our burnt orange colored home. I planted them sometime mid May if not a bit earlier. One has sprouted about 3" the other appears yet to have done anything so far. I have watered them regularly. Both are in a decent amount of sun but not what I would call full sun. I have put some wood mulch chips around the base to keep the roots cool. All that to say, any one have any experience with these Walmart bagged root starters? And if so any thoughts or tips on if this other root will vine out and do something? Would it be worth trying to dig the unactive root out to see if it's doing anything? A friend of mine who studied horticulture said they often take a month or so before they break ground and that this is a better way to actually start plants. Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts.

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Shep, there is always an issue with bare root starts (not bulbs, but you already knew that) regardless if they are clematis or some other plant. There is far too much variability in harvest and storage conditions to keep the plants happy uniformly. Some will be OK, others never do a thing.

But......and it's a big but.......if you get viable starts, they can be a good deal and quite inexpensive. And sometimes you can find some pretty unique choices mixed in with the dregs. My suggestion for any type of bare root starts - and especially for clems - is to pot them up ASAP and grow them on before planting out in the garden. This gives them an opportunity to properly wake up from dormancy and develop a healthy root system before facing the cruel outside world. I'd suggest at the least a 1G nursery pot and a high quality potting soil (not garden dirt) and let them grow on until fall before planting out. Ideally, you want the root system to properly fill that pot before planting. And be sure to plant the starts at a proper depth - typically about 4" above the root crown.

This is a pretty well-recommended procedure for any clematis that is purchased or received in anything less than a gallon-sized container - pot up and grow on.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 6:19PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I completely agree.

Also, don't feel too bad if they don't grow. Many are dead already when you buy them.

Personally, I'd rather pay ten or fifteen for a gallon pot than five for a package and risk it being dead and have to baby it along...

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 10:03PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I meant to say that I agreed with Gardengal :)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 10:05PM
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Welcome to the obsession, Shepherd. :)
Bareroots from a box could be tricky, but it can be done, and they are definitely cheap. Your friend is right, give them time, be patient. Sometimes it takes even longer than a month. The potting up Gardengal mentioned never worked for me. The kids will knock it over, the squirrels will dig them up (for some reason pots on the front porch are extremely attractive to them), or I will forget to water. I planted several in the ground, just like you did, and they grew for me just fine. But they will take time - it might be a few years before they are good and established and blooming. Also, be prepared that the contents might not be what it says they are on the box. I bought a box once that claimed to have two Marmori clematis. Well, one of them was Marmori, the other one turned out to be Autumn Joy. I didn't have Autumn Joy so it worked out fine. But you might not be as lucky and end up with something you didn't really want. Just be prepared. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 10:45AM
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bloomorelse(Z4b NB Canada)

You could dig up the root to see if it still looks good. If yes, then pot it up as gardengal48 suggested, then sink the pot directly into the ground so that the roots stay cool, gets rained on, etc. Venosa Violacea is beautiful.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 2:01PM
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About 12 years ago I got a multipack of 'Jackmanii' rootings.
I ended up with 2 Jackmanii clematis and 2 bare rooted Mustang grape plants!
They look very much alike when they are tiny and I'm sure it was an honest mistake...
but it just goes to show that you can never be sure what kind of plant you are buying.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 9:59AM
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