March 18, 2012

Maine Gardener: Hope for the clematis-impaired


(Continued from page 1)

Tibbetts said Hummingbird Farm sells clematis in 7-inch pots. If you buy clematis in 4-inch pots, the roots are not large enough for planting in the garden. Put them in a larger pot and let them grow through the summer, and plant them in the fall.

Most clematis like to climb on something, although some are shorter and work in a perennial garden, and others will trail along a rock wall. A trellis or arbor always works, and you can put wire on a shed or house if you use spacers so the vines can grow between the wire and the house.

Tibbetts also likes to mix clematis with shrubs, but only with already established shrubs. If you plant them at the same time, the clematis will grow faster than the shrub and make the shrub suffer.

"They grow up especially well in lilacs," she said. "You get color in May from the lilacs, and then in July, you get more color."

Tibbetts listed about 50 different clematis that she sells, and she has even more on her website. 

A few stood out for me. Ville-de-Lyon, which Tibbetts said has "55 miles-per-hour color, which means that if you have one bloom when you are driving by, you will notice it." It grows 10 to 12 feet tall.

Stolwijk Gold is the only clematis with colored foliage -- a good, strong yellow -- and it has flowers that are nearly a true blue. Tangutica requires full sun and good drainage but grows 20 feet tall, and has thousands of smaller-than-average yellow flowers that face downward.

Hummingbird Farm is not yet selling plants for this year. But go to and sign up for the email newsletter, and Tibbetts will tell you when you can start ordering.

Prices are $16.99 per clematis and $10.50 per box for shipping, and she can fit two clematis in a box. The phone number is 224-8220.

WINNERS of the Portland Flower Show student essay contest sponsored by the University of Maine extension were announced at the gala and awards celebration. Prizes of $50, $30 and $20 were awarded in each age category.

Winners in ages 6 to 9 were Naomi Zarin of Gray, first; Elizabeth Willette of Gorham, second; and Riley Vacchiano of Cornish, third. In ages 10 to 13, winners were Sophie Wink of Gray, first place; Helen Cunningham of Portland, second; and Amelia Searfoss of Pownal, third. In ages 14 to 18, winners were Kate Spies of Topsham, first; Emma Sapat of Falmouth, second; and Madeline Sanborn of West Baldwin, third.  

Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth and can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:


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