Plant of the Week: Clematis 'Diamond Ball'

Time to watch the ball drop!

If you can stay up that late, anyway. I don't think I've stayed up to watch the Times Square Ball Drop since having kids. But I do enjoy this 'Diamond Ball' clematis. Sure, it does its thing in summer, not on New Year's Eve, but I think it's worth the wait.

Clematis 'Diamond Ball' flowers on both old wood and new wood, so it's a much easier plant for the average gardener to grow. You will see flowers from June through August. The white-blue flowers are round or semi-spherical in shape and reach 4-5" in diameter. And not to belabor the Pantone colors, but this will be one of the popular colors in the new year.

'Diamond Ball' will grow 5-6' tall and 2-3' wide and is hardy to USDA Zone 4. It grows in full sun or partial shade. Try in a patio container or along a fence.

Pruning Clematis

This is a tricky subject. Clematis can be an intimidating group of plants. Until recently, I avoided the subject of when to prune them by simply not growing them. Our new varieties, however, tempted me, and I have them growing in my garden. I took the plunge after learning that pruning these new varieties isn't tricky at all. They bloom on both old and new wood, so I can prune them in the spring with many of my other plants.

Older varieties will need more specific culture. Cultivars are placed in one of three groupings, determined by their bloom time, and pruned accordingly. Fine Gardening has a nice overview.

Clematis are a great addition to any garden. They add color in unexpected places, like fences, and can even be grown in patio containers with a trellis. I have found that they need a season to get their legs under them before you see a lot of flowers. Once those roots get established, though, get ready for a real flower show!

So how about this for a New Year's resolution: grow a new plant. Pick one that has intimidated you in the past (like Clematis). Or maybe one that you've never heard of. Trying a new plant is way more fun than resolving to lose weight or do sit ups every morning.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles.

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