Transplanting Clematis

Question:

 I realize this is not an ideal time to transplant two Clematis "Jackmanii" vines. Unfortunately, they’re in the way of a room addition. The vines are four-years-old, already leafed out and in bloom. If I transplant them should I take as much of the vine as I can, or cut the foliage off at the ground and move only the root system? Is this even worth trying or is it a lost cause?

Answer:

  • Yes, I’d take the time and energy to move the Clematis plants. There isn’t a lot to lose other than your time, as the plants are doomed by the project anyway.
  • The key in transplanting established Clematis is to take as large a root ball as possible. I’d cut the foliage back fifty to sixty percent or more to make the move more convenient.
  • The new holes should be pre-dug and amended. You don’t want to expose the root ball to the elements for very long. The best time to transplant them is in the morning when it’s cool. In addition, insulate the root balls with a two-inch layer of mulch. A second option is to temporarily place them in containers and relocate them to their permanent home later.
  • They’re going to look sad for a while and the growth may collapse so don’t be overly concerned. The new shoots will develop from the base of the plants. The watering requirements are drastically reduced with little to no leaves, so you don’t over water them. I’d place the containers in a location that is shady in the afternoon. This is to protect it from the heat of the day sun.
  • Your transplanting success is going to be influenced by the daytime temperatures. Mild temperatures below eighty degrees work in your favor. 
  • Several days before moving the vines, I’d take a number of cuttings. This is your back up plan in case the original plants do not survive.
  • June is an excellent month to root Clematis cuttings. You don’t want to use new or old growth. Instead, select that growth that is in between. It is often referred to as the semi-hardwood. You’ll need a sharp knife, scissors, or hand shears to cut the shoots, as you don’t want to crush the thin stems.
    • The length of each cutting should be the distance between one set of leaves. When taking cuttings to take more than you need, dip the ends in a rooting hormone and place the cuttings in a six-inch container of the moist potting soil or you could root them in individual pots.
    • The container(s) is then placed on Heating Mat available at many independent garden centers and place outdoor in the filter or morning sun. Clematis doesn’t root quickly. It may take six to eight weeks or longer for roots them to form and you can replant in their new location next spring. By October, you should have a pretty good idea on how the original plants are doing.
  •  You’ll find more information on rooting Clematis at http://gardenofeaden.blogspot.com/2011/08/how-to-take-cuttings-from-clematis.html