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Propagating Clematis

Clematis plants grow beautiful blooms, but they are a difficult plant to master for the average gardener. However, with a little care and patience, you too can master the secrets.

Clematis plants can be expensive when purchasing in larger sizes from the nursery. However, with a little patience, you can take cuttings from a plant and grow your own.

Start early in the season (late April or early May). Large flowering clematis are a little more difficult to grow from cuttings without having a greenhouse.

Selecting the right rooting stem

Nodes which contain flower buds in the axils will root but often fail to produce shoots and should be avoided. The shoot tip is too soft for propagating, but the stem below this which is still green (or bronzy) is ideal for cutting and trying to root.

All cuts must be made with a sharp knife or razor blade so the cut edge is not ragged. Ragged cuts provide too much area for fungal diseases to enter. Keep the cuts clean.

As soon as the cut at the base of the internodes is made, it must be immersed in water immediately. If the cut dries out, the cutting may look fine for a week or so, but will be reluctant to root. Leave as many leaves on the stem as possible above the section that will be planted in a rooting mixture.

After the stem is cut and before you stick it in the water, take your finger nail and press it sharply against one side of the stem about 1" or so at the bottom of the stem. This in effect wounds the stem and will help encourage roots to form at this spot.

It is advisable to apply a rooting compound to the base just before inserting it into the rooting medium.

Rooting medium

A free-draining mixture of 50% peat moss and 50% well rotted compost. Do not soak this mixture before planting. You might also try a soilless potting mix.

After inserting the stem into the rooting mix, compress the rooting medium firmly around the stem to remove any air pockets. Lightly water the mix.

Size of the pot should be small. Seed starting tray size would be the ideal starting size. Too large of starting pot usually results in failure.

Care of the cutting

Don't cover the plant with plastic as this will only encourage fungus to form. It will take some experimentation to determine the right amount of light that is ideal. Too little light and rooting will fail; too much light and it will scorch the plant.

Light fungicide applications may be necessary to reduce fungus infections.

It should take about 4 weeks for roots to form.

When new shoots begin to grow strongly, transplant the seed pack to a slightly larger pot.

Plant layering an easier way to go

Perhaps the easiest way to propagate a clematis is by soil layering. Simply bend one of the stems over and pin it into the soil, allowing the tip to remain upright and in the daylight. It should root in about 4 - 6 weeks.

Transplanting Clematis

Clematis can be transplanted in the fall, late winter or very early spring before growth begins. Dig as large a root ball as is possible (make sure soil is moist); the more roots preserved, the less the transplanting process will hinder the plant's growth. Make sure all the site requirements are met in the new location before moving any plant.