Clematis as Cut Flowers & Growing Clematis in a Conservatory
Using Clematis as Cut Flowers
Considering that so many gardens, whatever their size, can boast at least one clematis plant, their value as a cut flower is often overlooked. If a clematis is well grown and flowering as it should, then there are immense possibilities for using the blooms on a lavish scale for producing floral decorations. And using clematis as cutcan be an appealing challenge for any flower arranger.
Some practical points need to be made, however. When you are cutting flowers for arrangements, try to leave a little of the old wood attached, as this helps to keep the flowers from flagging prematurely. Cut the flowers the day before arranging them, and leave them overnight in plunged up to their necks in water. Use a bucket with a piece of rigid plastic net across the top to keep the blooms supported and stop them becoming watermarked.
Because of their natural growth habit, many of the smaller-flowered varieties have sprays of blooms arranged in pairs along their stems. Very conveniently, these flowers usually face in one direction, making them ideal for arrangements on stands, or in vases placed high up so that the sprays can trail. With arrangements of this type, the stems must be very firmly anchored into wet oasis. It’s also worth considering whether you need to add some extra weight to the container to stop it overbalancing. The stems are also very effective if arranged along a shelf or windowsill.
When using larger-flowered varieties, it is more effective to cut individual stems and arrange the flowers singly. These can be used in mixed-flower arrangements or on their own with decorative foliage. Silver and grey leaves such as those of eucalyptus or Artemisia will make an excellent foil for the more purple-toned colours.
Even as late in the year as Christmas, clematis can have their uses in flower arrangements. Many late-flowering species such as Clematis tangutica , C. vitalha or C. flammula, and some of the large-flowered varieties, have silky seed heads. If you collect these before the weather damages them, they will last for long periods as part of a dry arrangement. If you gather them on their long stems before these become too brittle, then by winding medium-strength florist’s wire around the stems you can make them both flexible and resilient, which will mean they are even more useful in mixed arrangements.
Growing Clematis and Climber Plants in a Conservatory
Over the past few years conservatories have become increasingly popular. Their primary purpose is to provide an extra room for the house, but they have the added advantage of augmenting the garden as well.
Many plants are too tender to grow outside but will thrive under the protection of a conservatory. There are others that will flourish outside but which indoors will flower either more prolifically or earlier in the year, lighting up the dark days of winter with a welcome splash of colour.
In general, clematis don’t appreciate being grown indoors, preferring the cooler, more airy conditions outside. But there are some that will grow better in a conservatory.
The evergreen Clematis cirrhosa will not flower successfully in northern counties, but given a position under cover it will bear masses of its creamy bell-like flowers from January onwards C. florida Alba Plena’ from China, and its relative C.f.’Sieboldii’, are both quite hardy, but in a conservatory they will provide a never-ending succession of their strange double flowers right up until Christmas. Some of the large-flowered hybrids will also flower more readily indoors. Clematis ‘Lady Northcliffe’. for example, tends not to flower in the north, but does so happily with the extra warmth that a conservatory affords. Other hybrids will flower much earlier, but these should be chosen carefully; often they will grow vigorously, lose their bottom leaves and produce only a few small flowers.
Other climbers that can be grown to good effect include the various forms of passion flower (if space permits) and abutilon, although these do tend to be rather badly affected by whitefly.