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How shaded should clematis roots be?

BluebootsBlueboots Posts: 100

I'm going to buy a clematis. I believe they like sun on the foliage, but shaded roots. What does shaded roots actually mean. Do I need to plant the clematis under a leafy tree or a wall, then train it out to where I want it? Would it be OK to plant it in a trough in full sun, and plant other plants (e.g. violas) on top, or cover the soil with gravel, or rocks? 

Maybe a trough isn't the place for a clematis and I should consider a passionflower instead?


  • waterbuttswaterbutts Posts: 1,214

    Hello Blueboots. Clematis in the wild grow in hedgerows so it's best if you can try to replicate that kind of environment. They like the ground to be coolish and dryish. It's OK to plant them on the sunny side of a wall or hedge but they will need a flat stone or something cool around the stem, maybe extending by about a foot or so outwards. If you can plant them in the shade and train them out into the sun that would be perfect. A trough would be OK if it were big enough and deep enough to keep the soil from warming up and drying out during the hottest of days.

  • Waterbutts is right - a bnig flat stone is really helpful especially for the large flowered varieties.   The viticella ones though don't seem overbothered - these rampage up an arch in my garden, and up a tall stick tripod in a nearly uncontrollable fashion with no root shade whatsoever.  The more I cut them back the more they grow!

    I'm not sure about a trough though - they like a deep root run.

  • I alw.ays put a stone in front and grow a low plant as well so as to cover the feet so to speak.water well.#



  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 19,544

    Stones hide slugs and snails which like to feast on new clematis shoots in spring so none of my 50 or so clematis has a stone in front of it.   The more recent additions all get a clay plant pot with the bottom bashed out inverted over their stems to protect the base form my husband's slap happy hoeing action but shade comes from plants in front which also serve to hide any tendency to bare legs.

    Clematis have thick fleshy roots which like a long, cool root run so a trough in full sun is not teh best place for them.   I wouldn't plant one in any container smaller than 60cm (2') wide and 75cms (2'6") deep and then only facing north or east so the pot doesn't get hot and cook the roots.

    Clematis are also very hungry plants so need the best compost and regular top ups of feed, both slow release clematis food and quick tonic liquid tomato or rose food to keep them growing strong and flowering well.    They don't like to be too dry either so, if training up a wall, plant them at least 18" to 2' (45cms to 60cms) out and give them plenty of organic matter in their planting home then train them back to the wall.   Water them generously at planting time and until established.    You almso need to plant them at least 4" (10cms) deeper than they were in tehir pots as this protects against cleamtis wilt and encourages more stems to grow.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • SwissSueSwissSue Posts: 1,447

    I used to put flat stones in front of my clematis, until one day I touched a stone and found it to be glowing hot, heating the soil underneath as well! Since then I have planted something in front for shade or put a large piece of bark down.

  • BluebootsBlueboots Posts: 100

    That's valuable advice, thanks guys! I think you've probably saved me from a disaster (or at least a serious bit of timewasting while I slowly realised my plan wouldn't work.)

    My nephew just made me a wonderful trough out of thick wood. The plantable space is 3' 3" long, 1' 1" front to back, and 1' deep. It sounds like that is much too small for clematis, let alone dealing with the problem of shading the roots.

    I have two new trellis panels (totaling 12ft wide and 5ft tall - and also constructed by nephew image) with this trough below one of them. It faces east and will get full sun till about midday (i.e. will get hot). Any ideas what might like to climb out of that? There's no soil near it so I don't have the option of planting in the ground...unless I train something up a tree and across a path to reach the top of the trellis...

    It's opposite the kitchen window and I really want it to look good.

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