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"Growing the Many Different Types of Clematis"

Clematis are some of the showiest vines. They bear large, colorful flowers on vigorous, climbing stems. They are good choices for arbors, trellises, or for covering fences. In my garden, I grow them in all three locations as well as in trees, shrubs, and with climbing roses.

There are many varieties of clematis and I've grown many different ones over the years, but there are some unique ones that have become my favorites. Click on a plant name below to order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

Clematis 'Josephine''Josephine' is a new variety that I first came across several years ago in a trial garden. It is such a striking clematis with flowers that don't look anything like the clematis most gardeners are familiar with. Each flower has a single row of rose-pink base petals that surround a cluster of double, pale-pink petals in the center. As the flower matures, the outer petals fall away, leaving the central cluster, giving the flower a pompon effect. It is a long-blooming variety, flowering from June to August.


Clematis 'Belle of Woking''Belle of Woking' is another variety that has unusual flowers. Its pale-blue flowers are fully double. To me, its flowers look more like a waterlily than a clematis. In the center of the flower is a cluster of bright-yellow stamens. It's one of the best blue-flowered varieties. It blooms in May and June and again in September.

Clematis 'Ken Donson''Ken Donson' bears some of the largest flowers of any clematis variety. Each flower averages six to seven inches across. The flowers are deep, royal purple with a cluster of bright-yellow stamens in the center that really stand out against the purple petals. It blooms from June to September.

Clematis viticella venosa violaceaClematis viticella venosa violacea is a bi-colored variety. Its single flowers have deep-violet petals that are brushed with white in the center. It's a prolific bloomer and is covered with flowers from mid summer to early autumn.

Clematis 'Niobe''Niobe' is one of the best red-flowered clematis varieties. It bears single, rounded, deep, ruby-red flowers. Each velvety flower has a cluster of bright, golden-yellow prominent stamens in the center. It's in bloom from June to September.


Clematis montana rubensClematis aren't generally known for fragrant flowers, but there is one species that I grow that bears very-fragrant flowers. Clematis montana rubens has flowers that have a wonderful vanilla-like fragrance. Its small, single flowers vary in color from light pink to deep rose. To me, they look like a pink dogwood flower. It's a vigorous variety that's covered in blooms in early summer.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Rejuvenate Strawberry Bed for Best Berries"

Q. I have a question on gardening that maybe you can help me with. My strawberry plants produce great plants, but very little fruit. I was told I was feeding them too much, but that's not the case because I didn't fertilize them at all. I have tried different varieties but I always get the same result. Thank you for your help.

A. Strawberries are a popular berry this time of year. From pick-your-own farms to festivals, it's strawberry time here. It's hard to top the taste of a sweet, ripe strawberry. There are three different types of strawberries. The most familiar kind is known as June bearing. This type produces its one, large crop of fruit in June. Everbearing varieties produce a large crop of berries in June and then a smaller one in late summer or early autumn. Day neutral strawberries produce fruit all season long. They produce fruit buds regardless of day length and continue to produce flowers and fruit throughout most of the season.

For strawberries that aren't bearing well, as long as you have a productive variety that is suited to your soil and climate, it might help to fertilize and water the bed on a regular basis. I use Electra Plant Food and Electra Bloom Food on my strawberry bed. It's an organic, slow-release fertilizer. I alternate between the two every three weeks throughout the growing season. The tastiest berries are produced when the plants are adequately watered and regularly fertilized. Also strawberry plants produce the most fruit when grown in full sun.

If the strawberry bed is crowded, it may need some thinning of the older, unproductive plants. Strawberry beds need to be renovated every couple of years so there is always a good batch of healthy, young plants. To help rejuvenate the bed, select runners from each plant. Place a pot of soil beneath the small plantlet at the end of the runner. Pin the stem in place with a piece of bent wire and allow the plantlet to root. Once it has rooted, cut it away from the mother plant. This new young strawberry plant can then be planted in the bed in place of an older, less productive one. Do this every year to always have young plants in the bed. Regularly remove older plants and replace them with young, healthy ones to ensure a good crop of berries every year.

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