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Clematis are amongst some of the most beautiful flowering plants that money can buy. The trouble is that some of the more impressive varieties will cost you quite a bit of money, while other more interesting varieties - such as the Clematis sieboldii shown above - are few and far between. However, help is at hand as you can take cuttings from any specimen that takes your fancy - if you can find it. Just remember to ask for permission from the owner first!
How to grow clematis from cuttings
Clematis will grow best from softwood cuttings carried out over April, May and June. Careful though as these cuttings should only be taken from the mid section of a length of vine. Why? Because the tips will be too soft and the base will be too hard.
Using 3 inch pots - preferably terracotta - fill with a good quality cutting compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'. Gently firm down the compost then top off with a thin layer of horticultural grit. Water the pots with a soluble fungicide and allow to drain.
Now you can prepare a section of clematis vine - start with a piece about 3ft long - by cutting through it immediately above a leaf joint and again a couple of inches below the same node - the place on a plant stem where a leaf is attached. Repeat this until you have you required amount of propagation material. Now, to prevent your freshly cut shoots from wilting, place them into a plastic bag moistened with water to help to keep your material fresh.
To help reduce moisture loss from within the cutting before they get to root, you can remove all of the leaves from one side of the cutting. If the leaves are very large then you may also wish to consider cutting these in half. How you decide to do this will depend on the size of the leaves and how many of them there are.
Place your potted cuttings in a well lit area, but out of direct sunlight. Help to maintain a humid atmosphere place the potted cuttings under a propagator lid. Applying basal heat of approximately 20 degrees Celsius will also promote new root growth, but it is not essential. Keep the compost moist and the cuttings should root in about 4 weeks. You can check this by looking for roots emerging through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Another good indicator is when the leaves appear to perk up.
If your cuttings have taken well, then they can be re-potted by the end of the summer, otherwise pot them up to a larger sized pot next spring. Your rooted clematis cuttings will still need to be grown on for another year before they are of a decent size to be planted directly into the ground outside.
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Based on an article by http://www.britishclematis.org.uk/Cutting.htm
Photo care of http://www.gardenbuddies.com/forum/messages/64189/1197748.html and http://www.gardenbuddies.com/forum/messages/64189/1197748.html and http://www.mailorderplants4me.com/products/83