Yes, you can! Even in the Frozen North, it is possible to grow clematis in containers, as long as you pay attention to a few important things. When you come right down to it, we grow Betty Corning, one of our largest clematis, in a container of sorts. And with the ever increasing number of clematis that are bred for container use, the options are nearly limitless.
Choosing the container
There are two important considerations in selecting a container for your clematis. The first is the size. "Standard" recommendations call for containers for small clematis that are a minimum of 18 inches in diameter. (Small clematis are 6 feet tall or less.) Here in the Frozen North, we think 24 inches should be the minimum. If your container is less than that, we recommend extra protection in the winter. (See "mulching", below.) And, of course, the larger the clematis is, the larger the container should be!
Filling and Planting the container
We use a variety of materials to fill our containers. Brian has built a series of large, wooden boxes that hold some pretty big clematis in our courtyard. (Said boxes were necessary because of the bumper crop of Very Big Rocks that were in the way...) These boxes are at least 18 inches deep and several feet across. Due to their large size, and the fact that they are built in place and will never be moved, we filled them with top quality loam we bought from a local farmer. Smaller (whiskey barrel-size) containers are filled with Living Acres Light Mix, the same soil we use in the greenhouse. Whatever you use, make sure it is good quality - this is not a place to pinch pennies!
Feed Me, I'm Yours!
If you've followed our planting instructions, you won't need to fertilize your clematis again the first year. After that, fertilize in the spring with top quality compost and a couple of doses of rose fertilizer a month or so apart - just like you'd fertilize a clematis planted in the ground!
Wintering Container Clematis
Will your container stand freezing winter temperatures? If not, move it to a place where it will not freeze. If so, leave it where it is.
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Brian and Cindy Tibbetts
202 Bean Street Turner, Maine 04282
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