Clematis and Clay Soil

annie11(zone 5, IL)October 27, 2005

Well, I'm off to buy some sale clematis tomorrow. Most of my soil is clay, and I'm wondering if any of you grow clematis in clay and what your results have been. I can swap it out for some good topsoil, but would avoid the extra work if it's not necessary. Please let me know what you would recommend.

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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Annie, living in the south, all we have is clay. It can range in color from red to gray to light tan color. Clay is actually not a bad soil type to have since it can hold onto water for a long time and actually contains a lot of minerals. The problem with clay where I live is that once it dries out it hardens up like mortar and it takes a lot of water to get it resaturated. Unlike a lot of people, if I am digging a planting hole for clematis, I don't go overboard with amending it because if I did, it would become a holding area for the rain we do get. Although clematis like to have adequate soil moisture, they do not like to sit in it (except maybe clematis crispa or bog clematis) so I usually add some soil bark conditioner to lighten the soil and might throw some bonemeal and general purpose fertilizer in the hole, but that is it for me. Now if I am going to amend a whole bed, that is another story. I go whole hog beefing it up with compost, composted manure, soil conditioner, etc. You really need to know the nature of your own soil to know how much amending to do. What works for me might or might not work for your clay soil.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 7:33PM
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altoraMA(5/6 MA)

I have clay soil, I usually ammend it w/composted cow
manure. I don't like the bagged top soil. I also add
rose-tone but I wouldn't add it this late.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2005 at 9:43AM
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gimmeclemmies(5 MI)

Miguel's advice is very good. I have clay about 1 1/2-2 feet down, but it is very "friable"--mixed with other soil. Perfect for the deep roots at a later development, when they reach that far down. Yours may be like his, and so a lot of gushy stuff on top may encourage a mess.
Good luck on finding some discounted clematis!! I can always rationalize my buying more when they can be bought for a song.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2005 at 7:02PM
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Seems to depend on what type of clay one is dealing with. Mine is the heavy sticky gumbo stuff that is murder to work with! I've attained best results with digging out large planting holes and using plenty of peat, leaf mold and well rotted manure. The new place I'm moving to has a sandy clay subsoil which is friable and MUCH more easy to work with, the clematis will LOVE it! A good indication of such is that species clematis are found growing on the vigin land.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 12:17PM
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gimmeclemmies(5 MI)

Terry, are you bringing over all your roses and clematis? I'll bet it was hard to leave your garden behind. Nice that you've got the "good stuff" at your new house.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 8:27PM
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Hi gimmeclemmies, ... yes, I'll be busy digging and moving all sorts of plant material! I've been dabbling in rose breeding and have several rather nice selections which will be coming with me! Indeed it'll be hard to leave this place as I've been slaving away beautifying it for the last 25 years! I have a particularly NICE backyard which I'm definitely gonna MISS! The new location, which was densely treed virgin land, was selected due to its large numbers of awesome white birch trees ... and GOOD workable soil! Heck, soil quality was really the determining factor in purchasing the land! I've been gardening on difficult heavy clay soil and this is goona be a nice change ... simply dig a hole, work in some peat and plant away!


    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 9:15PM
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