Change out Containers Now and Pruning Clematis (2 Blogs in 1)

I know. Those summer annuals are still gorgeous. The idea of dismantling summer containers seems crazy when daytime temperatures are in the 70's (even 80's!), and the zinnias still pretty. Happens every year. 

Be ruthless. Now is not the time for garden sentiment. If you want the fall/winter containers to have any presence, plant now and get "feet" established on the new plantings before it gets colder (if that ever happens). Soil temperatures give us a window of opportunity in fall to plant and allow roots to develop. Why? Soil temperatures cool down slower than air temperatures, encouraging root growth over shoot growth. Remember too, pansies and voilas survive the winter and make a great spring show, giving color early in spring with the work already done. 

Let's listen to the expert at BB Barns, while designing a container in downtown Asheville, tell us why now is the time to pull out those summer annuals and get going on your fall/winter ones. Watch this short video with Brenna Henley, our staff container designer.

Up close picture of the containers. Red mums, blue point junipers, red and blue violas, wintergreeen, cones and kale.

[List of plants in the container: Blue Point Juniper, red mums, 'Glamour Red' Kale, Evergold carex, gaultheria (wintergreen), red and blue violas (Penny Deep Blue and Penny Red Blotch), and sugar cones. We expect the mums to last about 3 weeks and then we'll swap them out for new ones. Once the new ones die back, we'll add red twigs and curly willow and grape vines for a holiday display.]  

And for topic number two: pruning clematis. This is a big question for customers and it can be pretty confusing. Like hydrangeas, it's hard to know when to prune what clematis. Clematis are generally in groupings labeled 1,2,3 or A,B,C and pruned according to type.

Type One: Blooms early spring on old wood (last season's wood). These are generally the armandii, montana, alpina. If your clematis is blooming early spring you'll prune right after blooming so you do not lose your blooms for next season. Typically, they require damaged stem removal or thinning every few years and that's it.

Clematis 'Multi Blue' Type 2, flushes in early summer and again in fall. Prune in late winter, early spring. Cut out dead/diseased stems and cut back to 6-8" above developed buds. That is azalea Hardy Gardenia below it.

Type Two: Generally bloom in late spring. These are the 'Nelly Moser', 'Henyrii' and other large flowered clematis. They bloom on old and new wood. Prune late winter or early spring when buds begin to swell. Cut just above the buds. 

Type Three: Bloom late summer and only on new wood. 'Duchess of Albany' is an example and these can be cut to the ground in spring where they'll sprout back from the crown. 

Fall brings out the pruner in all of us, but it isn't the time to rush for your Felcos. Late winter or early spring is when most pruning will take place, so go get another cup of coffee and stroll through the garden this morning. Pruning is one chore you can wait on.

AAP, Cinthia

Cinthia Milner is the garden coach, blog writer and outside sales staff for BB Barns Garden Center.

BB Barns Garden Center serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina and Tennessee.