If you train clematis right, it will give you beautiful blooms! We inherited the clematis that is growing in our front yard when I bought the house, but it was obvious that the structure wasn’t allowing the plant to reach its full potential. You may have seen that we built a new trellis out of cedar to give the plant more structure to grow width and height-wise (more about trellises and privacy screens here and here).
The one thing that I didn’t touch on in those posts was the best way we found to train the clematis onto the trellis. Left without proper support, clematis can tend to flop onto the ground and grow out from the sides leaving it in unattractive lumps – and sometimes even lopsided when left to its own devices.
Each spring when the new growth reaches about a foot, I cut short and long lengths of a velcro product made just for the purpose of tying and supporting plants. I loop and fasten them onto the trellis when it’s still bare so it’s ready-to-go. You may think it looks ugly to have loops of velcro hanging from an empty trellis, but trust me – the plant grows so fast, it doesn’t stay this way for long and the green blends right in once it’s covered.
Note that once you’ve cut your lengths of plant tie velcro initially, you can reuse them again next year!
In the past, I find if I don’t prepare the trellis in advance by adding the ties to the empty trellis, then I won’t be likely to get out the scissors, roll of velcro and maintain the clematis every time it needs support… which ultimately leads to a messy outcome.
Here’s how the bottom of the plant looks in the spring when the bottom growth is fastened onto the trellis with the velcro. It’s neatly arranged and tied off so that the trellis will get full coverage once the plant grows further.
I make sure to have a variety of velcro lengths because I use the shorter ones to attach initial growth and the longer ones to corral all the offshoots (these get looped through the plant itself and not the trellis).
In the blink of an eye, the clematis can grow several feet in a day so if the velcro is already there and waiting, it’s just a matter of arranging the new growth into columns and fastening it into place by unlooping the velcro from the trellis, placing the vines in between and then re-fastening it. It literally takes a few minutes whenever I’m coming or going to finesse the plant for greatness. It couldn’t be easier!
Once established after just a few days, you can see that new growth tends to flop outward as shown in the next two pictures.
This is where you’ll use some of the longer loops to reel in the plant and fasten it onto previous growth – where there’s no exposed trellis left to attach to as shown below.
Just bundle it up and secure it on by looping the velcro through the plant and around the new growth. Don’t worry that it looks too clumped together. The velcro will be completely hidden as it continues to grow.
Continue to utilize the shorter pieces of velcro to secure clematis onto the sides and interior of the trellis where there’s still exposed wood.
Before you know it, your clematis will reach the top (this pic is from a previous year as it’s not currently at that point yet!).
When the clematis runs out of trellis, it will fold over on itself and start to bloom.
Since mine hasn’t reached the point this year where it’s fully grown yet, here’s how it looks once it’s trained and blooming (again, from a previous year):
The blooms are so pretty and add beautiful curb appeal to the front entry. At the end of the season, don’t forget to remove all the velcro ties to re-use for next year! Our particular clematis gets cut down to about a foot or so to overwinter and always comes back like a trouper every spring 🙂
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Also check out my new craft category, Birdz of a Feather ~ Craft Rehab, dedicated to sustainable crafting. At Craft Rehab, you’ll find ideas and videos for unique craft projects such as this groovy Austin Powers Cardboard Portrait and more!