Ground Cover Clematis – Plants for Ground Cover
Plants for Ground Cover
Ground Cover Clematis
The term ‘ground cover’ has come to be applied to those plants which provide a tight mat of foliage at ground level, thus inhibiting weed growth. Although clematis can provide many benefits, it has to be said, that this is not one of them.
The foliage of most clematis is simply not dense enough to keep unwanted weeds at bay. The one notable exception is Clematis X jouiniana ‘Praecox’ , whose thick layers of leaves completely cover the surface during the summer months, and so this is possibly the only clematis that can be truly categorised as ground cover clematis. Otherwise, clematis as ground cover has more decorative than practical value.
In the wild, clematis will naturally scramble along the ground until it meets some form of support up which to climb. This tendency can be used to great effect in the garden, where clematis can spread over quite large areas and produce a riot of colour for several months.
Clematis can also be used in conjunction with heathers and other ground-cover plants; winter-flowering varieties are especially suitable.When growing clematis with heathers, it’s best to plant them so that they grow initially through a clay land drain. This gives the clematis some height, and also protects the young plants from the attention of mice. These rodents love using heathers for their winter quarters, and can remove the clematis shoots at ground level each winter.
The best clematis for growing with heathers are the later-flowering varieties, particularly the viticella hybrids that flower on the current season’s growth. This means you can prune back the clematis in the autumn, allowing the heathers to flower unencumbered by the tangle of old clematis shoots. The heathers can also have their annual haircut in the spring before the clematis has got into its stride. The result will be a truly well-balanced relationship, providing colour from foliage andfor all twelve months of the year.
The later-flowering clematis hybrids can also be used on their own. Clematis varieties such as Clematis viticella ‘Abundance’ and C. v. Etoile Violette’ will scramble happily along the ground. However, the stems should be pegged down every so often with pieces of bent wire so as to prevent them being blown into a useless tangle by summer winds. Early spring bulbs can be under-planted to extend the flowering period.
The early summer large-flowered varieties can also be used in this way, but these require light, which is much more fiddly. Also, the flowers tend to be eaten by slugs and earwigs. As a result, they are better suited to growing up other plants or various structures.