I answered a question about pruning Clematis in this weeks' column but there is more information I could have shared - so thought I'd ramble on about it here.
As we all know, certain clematis vines are known for their cold hardiness and showy, colorful flowers in our zone 5-6 gardens. There are about 250 different species and numerous cultivars. Even though some say that clematis vines are easy to grow and require only basic care, there are those cultivars that don't seem so easy at all, but find it difficult to keep happy and give us the desired bloom we want. I touched on some of the reasons that could happen in the column, but will add a bit about when to fertilize here.
Some say that once established, you don't need to fertilize this vine at all. I'm OK with that, but I do think doing the compost/manure amendment in spring each year will make for a happier plant. Also a dose of 10-10-10 during the bloom period would help support the plant while it is working - but basically that is all you need to do. Word has it that basic 10-10-10 fertilizer will do - nothing special is needed unless you want to purchase slow release fertilizer that will last all season long. That's sure to be a time saver.
Just a note about the zone 6 addition to our part of the state. That rating is only for portions of the area - it is so intermingled with zone 5 that I personally will not be planting perennials and other supposedly cold-hardy plants unless they are rated for zone 5 - and just as a caution, I'll be looking for those that say they are hardy from zone 4 through 5. Plants that are perennial in Michigan and northern states, will certainly be happy here.