by Cammie Barden
Dan Long, Brushwood Nursery owner, knows a thing or two about clematis as that is his business’ primary product. Although they can be a great addition to any program, their production can be a little more than daunting for many. He divulged his experience recently at Cultivate’17.
Long said that clematis are great for long-term nurseries and for a niche-production market.
“There are hundreds of species and thousands of cultivars,” said Long. “They all need to be treated differently.”
Clematis, as Long described, are caught somewhere between perennials and shrubs. Mostly hybrids can be found on the market. But producing from cuttings is not as difficult as most would believe.
“You need to start with a healthy stock and good sanitation,” said Long. He emphasized that if you start clean, then you will stay clean. Thus creating success from the cutting of a single node.
But identity is the most important and can be the hardest. Most clematis look the same before flowering, so it is hard to keep track of what you are growing and what you are not.
“Identification is important,” said Long. “It’s easy to mix in a vigorous mix.”
Although growing clematis can make space a luxury, it’s important to keep propagating your stock to keep its identity as pure as possible.
For soil media for propagation, Long uses a blend of pearlite, fine potting mix and do all cuttings in the morning to reduce the stress on the plants. He grows his cuttings in a humidity tent with a mist fan keeping the air circulating. Only during warmer weather does Long make the mist intermittent.
When moving away from propagation, the most important thing to remember is that “clematis like to dive deep” said Long. More specifically, the roots are more comfortable growing down. To help them do that, a soil media of pine bark, perlite and iron sustaining potting mix should be used. The pots should be about 12 inches tall and five inches across.
It’s important to know what stock you have planted so vigor can be anticipated. Trellising with bamboo, wood or wire can show your customers that it is a vine and be a point for an add-on sale. But only if a strong root system has been established.
Clematis can be susceptible to white fly or aphids, but there not many other insects that bothers them. A simple IPM system can eliminate most problems with pests.
Powdery mildew and clematis wilt are a few afflictions that can affect your stock. “Clematis wilt is rarely fatal but it needs to be cut back right away and then properly disposed of — do not compost it,” said Long. Using a basic preventative will keep powdery mildew at bay.
The biggest part, though, it to make sure the root system is strong. A strong root will mean a healthy plant.