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Is it smart to plant Clematis in the fall? The answer is a qualified “Yes.”
The only qualification of concern is with what kind of Clematis you plant, and in what climate you garden.
Types Of Clematis
There are two types of Clematis:
- Those flowering in late spring or early summer on last year’s growth
- The varieties flowering from midsummer into fall on growth made during the current year.
There are native species and glorious, large-flowered hybrids in each group.
Both types are hardy in temperate climates and can be safely planted in the fall with some special protection during the first winter, such as a thick but light and airy mulch.
You can also hill up soil around varieties flowering on old wood, so the tops won’t dry out or be killed back.
Warm Climates and The South
In the South or other warm climates, the large-flowered hybrids are sensitive to extreme heat and humidity and are likely to be risky.
But some of the sturdier varieties, like jackmani, are worth a try.
For safety’s sake, select the evergreen Clematis species armandi and paniculata, or semi-evergreen texensis or montana rubens.
Plant any time except just before or during the flowering season.
Planting Clematis In The North
In the North, it’s a different story. Species and hybrids flowering on old wood can have their stems killed by severe winters and either die or fail to flower the following season.
The herbaceous or half-herbaceous types blooming on new growth from the roots are most likely to succeed.
Among these, the hardiest are species like:
- White-flowered lanuginosa Candida
- Sweet-scented Clematis paniculata
- Urn-flowered texensis
- Clematis Virginiana (Virgin’s Bower)
Check online nursery catalogs for currently available large-flowered Clematis hybrids.
For fall planting, try to get dormant plants, well-rooted and at least two years old.
Tips For Planting Clematis In The Fall
No matter where you garden, careful planting is important to Clematis.
- If your soil is not light and porous, dig a hole two feet in diameter and three feet deep.
- Mix the soil you dig out with leaf mold or aged manure, plus sharp sand for drainage.
- If your soil is acid, mix in a generous quantity of horticultural garden lime
- Clematis insist on soil that is either neutral or alkaline.
- If your soil is very heavy and clay-like, put a two-inch layer of coarse cinders, pebbles or gravel in the bottom of the hole for drainage.
- The crown of the plant should be set one or two inches beneath soil level.
- Pack soil lightly around the roots
- Water thoroughly
- Cover the roots with a three-inch mulch of some light material to help hold moisture.
- When you plant a clematis that is to bloom on existing stems, be sure to provide a stake, pergola, trellis or some other support at planting time.