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How Much Better is Bigger?

Posted by kad2 z7 VA (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 27, 09 at 17:42

Hello!

I am pretty new to clematis and have a question. I have placed clematis orders this spring from Wayside and Silver Star. My Wayside order arrived today and, while the plants look healthy, they are very small. I haven't received my Silver Star order yet but it states on their website their plants are 1 gallon size so I am expecting much better from them. Now today, I went out cruising at a local nursery to see what new spring stuff has arrived and they had several clematis from Monrovia in nice 2 and 3 gallon pots (I think that was the size...they may have been bigger) all a couple of feet tall and leafed out with plenty of buds. Of course they were premium priced at 24.99 and 59.99! Now I am NOT willing to do 59.99 but I admit I was a little tempted by the ones for 24.99 since they were such a good size and there were a couple of varieties I was interested in. This may be a stupid question but can I expect a clematis of this size to just jump right in there and not miss a beat after I plant it in my garden? Would I miss the "sleep" and "creep" stage and just "leap"? I know there are many variables in how individual plants will grow (climate, location, soil etc) but in general, how does the initial size of a clematis and its root system relate to its performance in the garden? How long would it take for a clematis from say Wayside or Silver Star to catch up? I guess I am a little into instant gratification this year! I moved into a new house and left behind my beloved garden and am itching to get things going...is it worth it? Thanks for any info!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How Much Better is Bigger?

Regardless of the size of the clematis you purchase, the plants will have to get established in the ground before you can expect much top growth or flowers. Even if they put out a lot of top growth, the plant will often wilt back during the heat of summer since the root system will more than likely not be established enough to be able to supply all the new top growth with the moisture and nutrients that they need unless you are very attentive to the watering.

All things being said, in my experience with clematis, I much prefer a plant that is quart sized to one gallon sized to any other size. I just don't think it is worth it to purchase a larger sized clematis especially at the much higher price point that you pay when you can plant it in the ground and get the same sized plant within a year. I can unequivocably say that I would never pay 59.99 for any clematis regardless of what that clematis might be. I would be tempted to buy smaller sized plants than quart size if they were ones that I wanted that I couldn't find in quart or gallon sized pots. Let me caveat all this by saying that I am a clematis freak and if I can purchase clematis at a cheaper price and grow them out in gallon sized plants, I will do it simply due to the economics of it. However since I have well over 150 plants and am growing them from seed now (and have way too many seedlings coming along now), I am much less tempted to purchase newer varieties now.

Just realize if that you are new to clematis, the main thing you should be focusing on is doing what is necessary to insure your success with clematis. If you are able to purchase smaller plants, but still healthy plants, and get them to survive because you pay attention to proper watering, mulching, pruning, and fertilizing, then that is the way for you to go. If however, you need plants that will require less care from you and have them survive, then quart and larger sized plants might be better for you. Whatever you do, do not expect instant gratification from any clematis. Expect less and then if you get more, then be excited. Don't let disappointment in the first year or two's performance in your clematis scar your attitude about these plants.


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RE: How Much Better is Bigger?

Clematis is more like a tree than a perennial- it could live for 90 years or so, while it is not easy to grow tree from cutting it takes a lot of work to transplant a fully grown tree. I have had much better luck with buying smaller pot, growing it to 1 gal size and planting it out but again I am cheap when it comes to paying for plants, I would rather buy a seed and grow it myself.


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RE: How Much Better is Bigger?

I buy Clems locally in gallon pots from $9.99 to $19.99, I would never spend the money on bigger ones. I don't think they are worth it. They'll still take several years to get established in the ground and you should hard prune them down when you plant them anyway so you'll cut all that growth off.

Good luck with your Clems from Wayside, I had poor luck with their Park Seed divison two years in a row and won't ever buy from them again.


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RE: How Much Better is Bigger?

  • Posted by kad2 z7 VA (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 28, 09 at 10:36

Thank you everyone for the very helpful information! I think that is what I was expecting to hear but wanted to confirm it. I am going to resist the urge to buy the larger ones right now...I ended up buying a total of 9 from Wayside and Silver Star as it is and should concentrate on getting those off to a good start. Not to mention I only have 8 "homes" picked out and need to figure out where the 9th one is going. I am normally not so impatient but it feels like I have been without a garden FOREVER. I am actually a rose junkie but due to frustrations with increasing populations of japanese beetles at my last place, I have decided I want some other "stars" in the garden besides roses and I think clematis are beautiful. I did plant a few at my last place over the last couple of years but I admit I just sort of planted them and forgot about them...I want to do better this time! They were all small plants and were just starting to get going when we moved and of course they really caught my eye then...so I guess I wanted to jump to that stage quickly if I could. Despite my neglect and failure to cut back even once, Jackmanni was putting on a show before we moved...no wonder I want to get more into clematis now!

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RE: How Much Better is Bigger?

You must have been so sad to leave that beautiful garden! I sure understand your eagerness to quickly recreate what you had. Good luck and happy gardening!
Judith


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RE: How Much Better is Bigger?

I agree with Judith. Your former garden looks wonderful and is the epitome of a cottage garden in my eyes. Look forward to pictures of the transformation that I am sure will occur in your new garden.


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RE: How Much Better is Bigger?

  • Posted by kad2 z7 VA (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 29, 09 at 14:30

Thank you for the kind words. I have spring fever so bad I can't stand it and I hope I do have pretty pictures to post someday soon!

Just to clarify what Buyorsell888 said...so if I ever do purchase a large potted clematis that is already leafed and budded out, I should still cut it all the way back when I plant it? Would it be so bad to let the buds bloom first and then cut it down?


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RE: How Much Better is Bigger?

It would really be up to you whether to cut them back or let them bloom and then cut them back. Cutting the top growth back just reduces the amount of top growth that the newly planted roots would have to support with water and nutrients. If you keep up with the watering, you should be able to let them bloom and then cut them back. Sometimes if you are wanting them to begin growing and attaching themselves to a new support, you have to cut them back to remove them from any support that they might be on. Sometimes it is just easier to cut them back than to have to try to deal with the support that might be in the pot that they are already attached to.

You could just leave them in their original pot or even pot them up into a larger sized pot, keep them watered, enjoy the blooms, and then whack them back and plant them after the blooms finish up. The only disadvantage to this is that it might put the planting off until later in the summer and the plants would have missed the early planting so their roots could get established before hot weather arrives. Then again, you could just leave them in their pot and plant them in the fall--that is the most preferable time for me anyways since our springs become summer with hot and dry weather almost overnight.


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RE: How Much Better is Bigger?

I keep them in their nursery pots until they finish blooming and then chop them off and plant them. :)


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RE: How Much Better is Bigger?

  • Posted by kad2 z7 VA (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 30, 09 at 10:31

That sounds good. Patience patience...good things come to those who wait! I guess I need to hit the annuals heavy this year for my instant gratification until roses, clematis and perennials start doing their thing. Thanks again for all the info!


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RE: How Much Better is Bigger?

Yes, patience is good with gardening. Especially with Clemmies.


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