Monty Don on best ‘technique’ for planting ‘all’ clematis after previous plant ‘failed’

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Lead Gardeners’ World host Monty Don shared his method for planting clematis on Friday’s episode of the programme. The 66-year-old said he wanted to plant a new clematis in the cottage garden at Longmeadow to replace a previous one. The previous clematis “failed” because it died back right to the ground.

He continued: “There is such a thing called clematis wilt, which is the fungus that wilts the whole of the top growth, which can regrow from below the soil.

“But this was a group three clematis – the late flowering type and that is not known to get wilt so it’s quite strange.”

There are three types of clematis plants – group one, group two and group three.

Group one clematis are the early flowering ones that flower before the end of May.

Group two are the large flowering ones which have big flowers in May, June and July and sometimes late.

Group three clematis have a mass of small flowers that never flower before June and sometimes not until July.

Some group three clematis will flower almost until Christmas.

Monty shared his “technique” for planting clematis that he said is “worth using for all of them”.

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The clematis he was planting is a group three variety called Prince Charles which has blue-mauve coloured blooms.

The plant needs plenty of moisture and food.

The soil in the cottage garden was dry which Monty said is “bad news” for clematis which grow “best” in cool, moist conditions.

“They hate baking sun and they hate drying out at their roots,” he added.

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Monty planted a deep hole which he then filled with compost.

When removing the clematis from the pot, the gardening expert urged gardeners to “tease” the roots away from the bottom of the pot.

He said: “Now you’ll sometimes see me tease the roots away from the side of a pot.

“Don’t do that with clematis. What you want to do is tease the roots from the bottom of the pot, and the reason for that is you don’t want much lateral growth it’s too close to the surface.

“The closer the roots are to the surface, the more they dry out. What you want it the routes to go down.

“Second thing is all clematis, plant them deep.

“Go up to the first leaf and bury it an inch or two deep.

“And the reason for doing that is that it means that it will grow roots from the stem underground.

“If it gets wilt, it means that everything above ground can be killed but it will still live on from the stem underground and regrow.”

Monty made a hole in the compost, planted the clematis deep in the middle and then filled the space around the plant with more compost.

He will then mulch around the plant “very generously”.

However, before mulching, gardeners need to water the plant.

Watering and then mulching the plant will slow down the evaporation of the water and keep it in.

Monty said to keep the new plant well-watered.

He added: “A bucket of water a week will do no harm at all initially.”

Clematis need to be kept well-weeded, watered and mulched thickly.

Gardeners’ World is available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

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