In the Garden:
Mid-Atlantic
September, 2000
Regional Report

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My sweet autumn clematis vine in full bloom and smelling heavenly.

How Sweet It Is!

Finding plants to bloom in the fall garden can be a challenge, so I'm thrilled. The sweet autumn clematis (Clematis ternifolia or C. paniculata) I planted two years ago is blooming for the first time!

The little white starry flowers are lovely. They make up for their small size by blooming in luxurious profusion like a soft billowing cloud. And they are gently fragrant.

Making Clematis Leap

There is an old saying about clematis. "First year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap." Well, this one certainly "slept" its first year - due to drought and competing tree roots, it grew all of 6 inches. This year, it "crept" nicely, scrambling gracefully up onto a low wooden fence and along the top rail. The vine's delicate look softens the fence exactly the way I hoped it would. By next fall, it should "leap" to 20 or 30 feet, so it would be perfect for covering an arbor or pergola, too.

Clematis Care

Compared to many clematis, this one is easy to grow. It asks only a little sun (a partial day is enough, but all day is fine, too) for its top and a little shade for its roots, perhaps from a fence or small planting of flowers. I watered it the first year until it became established; now I simply keep it mulched and give it a bit of compost and a handful of complete granular fertilizer in the spring.

The Best Prune

In a year or two, when it grows bigger, I'll prune it to keep it under control. This clematis may be pruned very hard in late fall or early spring or else not pruned at all. Perfect for lazy gardeners! Either way, once established, it will bloom its little heart out.


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