When propagating clematis, divide or try layering them

BACKYARD Q&A

February 13, 2005|By Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali | Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I have an old clematis vine that comes up every year; it's in good shape. I collected quite a few seeds in the fall after they dried out, and I need to know how to plant and raise seedlings from these seeds.

Propagating clematis from seed is not recommended, because most clematis are hybrids. A plant produced from seed may have some of the characteristics of the parent plant, but it would not be identical. In many cases, the results are disappointing.

Clematis can also be propagated by division if yours is a clump-forming clematis. After regular spring pruning, dig up the plant, split the root system into pieces and replant. Not knowing what kind of clematis you have, perhaps you should try layering. Layering is easy, though slower. In the soil close to the plant, make a small depression. Select a nice strong stem and bend it down to lay across the depression with a few inches extending beyond. Anchor the stem where it touches the depression, then cover that spot with soil - the tip of the stem uncovered. Keep the stem attached to the parent plant and keep it watered. It takes about a year for it to root, and at that point, cut it from the parent plant and plant it.

Checklist

Refrain from any hard pruning of vines such as clematis until early spring when winter damage can be fully assessed.

Start growing your own alfalfa, mung bean, broccoli, and radish sprouts at home. All you need are glass jars and seeds. Check your favorite mail order seed company or kitchen store for supplies.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information and answers to plant and pest questions. Call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.) or e-mail questions to www.hgic.umd.edu. (You can also download or order publications and diagnose plant problems online).

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