new clematis grower wants to train vine

kawillis85October 27, 2013

Hi all!

The nice people in the Name That Plant forum have identified the pretty vine that has popped up in my garden as Clematis terniflora. I want to train it to the fence where it is growing - it's making an attempt on its own, but most of the plant is drooping all over the ground, so I want to help it out.

I have never trained a vine before. The fence posts/slats are very wide, so I can't just tie it up with twine. Any suggestions? Also any advice about the care and feeding of clematis would be appreciated, as I've never grown one before.


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That is a very vigorous type 3 clematis and at this time of year there is little you can do with training - the plant is at its peak of growth and will die back for the winter shortly. At the end of winter - around March - you should cut back the vine pretty hard, somewhere around 18" or to the third set of buds from the ground. From that point, training should be relatively easy! Growth can be fast - this gets to be a huge vine - so you need to keep on it. Stringing fishing line can help to give support but I've found the vine able to attach and drape itself over a fence or other structure quite easily without much assistance.

In my area, the rapidly growing, large species clems like SAC need no particular fertilizing - they grow fine without it. Just provide water during very dry periods and cut back hard each March. And you should be aware that this clem is considered to be invasive in some parts of the country due to its ability to reseed freely.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2013 at 1:58PM
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Thanks, that's very helpful. I'm not surprised it's sometimes considered invasive, I somehow got this one "free" - certainly didn't plant it. At least it's pretty. :)

    Bookmark   October 27, 2013 at 4:34PM
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IanW Zone 5 Ont. Can.

I have posted this pic of my Clematis terniflora in another thread, but thought you may want to see what an outstanding vine it is.....
My vine is only 3 years old and covers my ugly chain link fence (about 15 feet)....

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 9:51AM
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I've seen folks fasten wire fencing of some kind to a fence to help clematis climb.

Also, with regard to GG's comment about cutting it down, doing this annually will keep the blossoms from being only at the top of the plant, and it will grow to full height each year after the spring pruning.

I don't know where you are, but if you are in an area where it's warm enough for the seeds to ripen, trimming most of the old blooms off the plant with something like hedge shears after the bloom is done will help keep it from seeding around any more.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 5:21PM
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Ah thanks, that's very useful, I was wondering how to promote flowering. Also good to know how to help control re-seed.

I am virtually certain I've found the parent of my plant - a neighbor about 4 doors over has a beautiful one. I'm not complaining about my freebie, but something that spreads so readily does deserve close watching. ;)

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 11:59AM
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Ian, that's a beautiful plant! Definitely improves the chain link.

My fence is wide, wide, wooden slats, and the poor plant *is* having trouble climbing it. I'm very antsy to start getting it put in order ... I tacked it up in one place, but because I let it go so long on its own it's a bit of a sprawling mess. Bought some twine and will make another go this weekend; will take some more pictures as I would like more advice. I understand it's the wrong time to prune, but it is such a tangly mess ...

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 12:03PM
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