Clematis and spruce trees

nydepot(6)August 26, 2013

I've been reading through old forum posts on growing clematis up trees and I'm considering getting two Sweet Autumn Clematis.

I had a group of three spruce (white and blue) and one had to be removed. These are in the 25-30' range. The tree on the south side of the three was removed and this left a blank area on the other two trees where the trees touched and eventually all the needles fell off. The rest of the tree is fine.

I'd like to train a clematis next to each of the two remaining spruces to cover the dead area which extends up about 12-15'.

I read that the Sweet Autumn Clematis grows large and would cover the area.

My concern comes from pruning. I'd like to grow something that would generally be maintenance free, without the hassle of specific pruning, as in type 1, 2, and 3.

I'd like a final clematis height of 15-20'. Does the S.A. Clematis seem to fit the bill or would something else be better? Thanks.


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opheliathornvt zone 5

Sweet Autumn is a pruning group 3, which means that you cut it down to 6-12" from the ground every year. Mine grows from 6" to 15 or 20' every year with really good coverage. It's a very large clem, so I think it's exactly what you're looking for. One year I wanted to see what it would do if I didn't prune it at all, and it still was 15 - 20' tall. I had thought it might add an additional 15' to the 15' from the previous year, but it didn't. I cut mine down in the fall to let the lattice it grows on dry out and because the dead leaves look ugly, but if you didn't want to prune at all, I think you might be able to just leave it alone if you didn't mind how it looked in winter. The only reservation I have is how the spruce roots from the other trees might affect it and I have no advice for you about that, I'm afraid.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 9:22AM
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With a couple of caveats, I think the SAC could work for you also. First, you should be aware that this is considered an invasive species in some areas, mostly in the Midwest and east coast I believe. Second, it can grow quite a bit larger than 15-20'. In my garden it grew to 30'+ each season and could engulf all manner of plants anywhere close to its location. I would not consider that a real handicap for your situation, however conifers like the spruce often react poorly to being covered/shaded by other foliage. If you can keep most of the growth restricted to bare spots on the conifers, you should be OK.

FWIW, I would NOT consider leaving this vine unpruned - it would not be beneficial to the conifer at all. The weight and shading of the accumulated vine would rapidly become detrimental.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 3:06PM
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Thanks. So treat it as the group 3 it is, prune it to the ground and pull everything out of the tree every year. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 3:09PM
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