Not about clematis cuttings

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The title may have been a diversionary tactic.

I do seem to write about clematis cuttings every five minutes or so and I hated to admit that I’m about to do it again, but for closure– and so Kininvie knows he lost the bet and must carve a Halloween Neep (turnip) next fall–here is an image of the cuttings I started last June.

clematis cuttings from last summer

They are climbing and grabbing onto sticks with their little baby clematis stems. So cute. It only took ten months.  But recently I read that making cuttings in Spring is the easiest time to get them to root. (Can anyone tell me where the hell were these experts last year?!)

So in early March I tried it, rather like I did with the cuttings last June. Here is an image of the completed process just before covering the pot with a plastic bag.

new spring clematis cutting

The cutting is made from a section of old stem that was sprouting new growth. It is set down into the soil so the new growth just has its little toes in the dirt and lower part of the old stem is underground, growing roots or serving as ballast or maybe rotting.

Next is a photo two weeks later.

In real life this cutting is not blurry.  Or maybe it’s blurry because it’s growing so fast! No, just kidding.  Really it’s that I had to use my little inferior camera today since Mr O absconded with his Nikon.  (Don’t worry, he’ll probably be back.)

2 week old clematis cutting

Sure it could be sort of coasting on the power of the stem, like when you miss lunch but can still walk down the street, but I do think they are growing. Yes. Possibly.

And so in truth I will be reporting back, again, on this ever fascinating and gripping issue.


The Great Monsoons of April have arrived as a break from the Freak Snows of March. Today I was able to move one wheelbarrow load of compost  to one planted bed before a moment of sun faded right back to rain.

But on a bright but rainy day it is just so lovely to escape to the greenhouse –a warm humid place with the smell of the earth, all quiet and wonderful because the aphids living on a couple of the plants are too busy eating to talk and the ants living under the heat mat just use I think text messaging on their tiny phones so it really is quiet and I can think about which little batch of sprouting seeds I want to separate from their families and settle into individual pots, like moving them into their own apartments…sad really.

greenhouse seedlings

And what do you do when you have a little pot into which you’ve put seeds of something and maybe only three green things grow in the pot. Maybe two look alike and one is different. Do you assume the odd one is a weed and keep the other two just by virtue of their twoness?

And then what if another one like the matching two comes up in an adjacent pot? Does that mean you accidentally spilled one of the flower seeds into that second pot or does it mean the first two and the other one like them are ALL weeds and the one plant you tossed out of the first pot was the plant you wanted to grow?

If you can’t follow this discussion please remember (not that I ever told you) that I spent a full TWO WEEKS in law school so my lines of logic can be deep but arcane.  And no I was NOT expelled I was temporarily taking notes for a law student who was out sick, very kind of me, and I learned quite a lot about contract law and implied warranties, and also the rights of people who own sewing machines…  Anyway, I will be applying my law school education during the following brief discussion–and that’s “brief: small” not “brief: legal” and certainly not “brief: underwear” or as Alberto would say “brief: knickers.”

Now.  Here is a photo of two pots. (Another blurry photo. If you click on this one you may get a clearer version. For some reason WordPress sometimes likes to add a bit of blurry, to create some kind of mood or it may just be that they own stock in a company that sells eyeglasses.)

balloon flower seedlings?

I have a theory that these three baby plants in the above picture are all balloon flower plants (Platycodon grandiflorus), but only the pot on the right was planted with that kind of seed.  The pot on the left experienced a phlox Crop Failure that is outside the parameters of this discussion except as the pot is residence of the plant known heretofore as the illicit balloon flower seedling and known henceforth as the Party of the Second Pot.  (Law School talk.)

Now if you are familiar with the appearance of balloon flower seedlings and those two seedlings plus the Party of then Second Pot look like them, let me know.

Exhibit A, balloon flower

If you are familiar with balloon flower seedlings and none of these could possibly be one go tell someone else–your attorney maybe, especially if she’s a gardener– and tell her not to sue.

Judge Tillie


About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in Clematis, propagation, Tillie and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Not about clematis cuttings

  1. Now you’ve made me want to take cuttings of my different clematis plants!!! (But where would i stick the new plants? Perhaps I should wait until next year…)

    You seedlings look great, though I can’t help you with your “2+1” conundrum.

    • linniew says:

      Yes no one needs this many clematis vines. The worst part is I am a little confused about which ones are which until they bloom. Of course they are labeled, but there was this moment of label confusion that had something to do with a small local earthquake or maybe with my erratic and random nature, not sure which.

      • Hehe… I know the labelling situation – or lack thereof – well myself.

        I’d love to have loads more clematis, but I need a big wall to cover with them, and since I don’t have that I’ll just stick with the 7 clematis plants I already have…

  2. Bridget Foy says:

    You devil! I’m envious! Clematis cuttings NEVER root for me. I’ve tried several times and it’s always failure. As to the seeds…have’nt a clue!

    • linniew says:

      Well Bridget you might give it a try about now. I expect the clematis in your neighborhood are just starting to grow, like here. The great thing is you can nip a cutting in someone else’s garden (with permission of course, or else under cover of darkness) and get a whole new variety that way.

  3. Holleygarden says:

    Oh! Clematis cuttings! I’m so inspired to start my own! Can’t help you with your balloon flower seedlings. But surely something fun is growing there!

    • linniew says:

      I will be keeping a close eye on all those little plants Holley. Of course if they are lovely balloon flowers I will be writing about that later. (If they are weeds not so much.)

  4. Ginny says:

    Reading this post was a fun way to start my day! Now I’m inspired to take some clematis cuttings but mostly I’m jealous of you and everyone else who has a greenhouse!

    • linniew says:

      I feel certain you could do those cuttings in a window sill. The plastic bag keeps in the moisture. Still I hope the Greenhouse Fairy brings you a greenhouse very soon just because they are a fun place to make a big mess with dirt and water and no one can complain about it.

  5. One way to test whether your clematis cutting has roots is to gently tug on it and see if it resists. If so, there are roots holding it in place. Obviously be careful not to pull the cutting out.

    This page has several pictures that are supposed to be platycodon seedlings:

    Is that any help with your identification process? It’s a little hard to tell with the wordpress soft focus romance effect, but it looks quite promising.

  6. b-a-g says:

    I’m glad that you won the bet with Kininvie, even though I don’t really know him.
    Have you considered getting seed trays with individual compartments and just planting 2 seeds in each ? It takes out a step in the process and would allow more time for your law studies.

    • linniew says:

      Well b-a-g I certainly appreciate your concern for my continued law education and you should know that I make every effort in this realm. For example I watched every season of Boston Legal. Also I think wooden mallets are cool.

      Sometimes I only plant a couple seeds in a 2″ pot if the seeds are big like cucumbers or sweet peas. But some seeds look like dust so those tend to float around like confetti and come up in the strangest places.

      Then I do feel–and please don’t tell anyone else about this–I do feel that there is a Changeling element to seeding. Someone or Some Thing takes great joy in switching seeds out and or around. What else would explain the fact that of two planted pots I have exactly one seedling of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate (Polygonum orientale) and it sprouted in a pot with a tomato plant? –I rest my case.

  7. I need to bet a clematis plant, I still don’t have one!

  8. It’s never occurred to me to take clematis cuttings. I thought quite a bit more voodoo than soil and a plastic bag were involved in getting them to grow without a root. I’m not sure if your mystery seedling is a balloon flower or not. I’d give it time to grow since its appearance has been a bit too brief. 🙂

    • linniew says:

      Did I say there was no voodoo? I might have left out some steps…

      Welcome Tammy! I just read at your blog about your sweet rescued dogs and your lovely garden with so many native plants–Thanks for coming by!

  9. Roberta says:

    It is fun when things grow, isn’t it?! I’d grow all sorts of things but I don’t have room for 10 varieties of tomatoes, 3 of potatoes, purple AND green basil, little known but not entirely rare herbs, geraniums, artichokes and their cousins that I always forget the name of, etc., etc. You get the idea. I’m tempted to grow all this anyway and then do stealth plant deliveries at midnight in neighborhoods miles away. Who wouldn’t be surprised and delighted by a pot of Good King Henry, lemongrass, and a zucchini sitting on their doorstep? You might think about doing the same with all of your clematis. You know, if you were so inclined.

    • linniew says:

      I have learned to limit the number of tomatoes, especially those “indeterminate” ones that think their mission is to deliver Jack to the Giant. I love the idea of delivering baby plants (in baskets maybe, with a note) to unsuspecting strangers, like in that old tv show called The Millionaire, where this rich guy would hand out million dollar checks to deserving strangers. Well not exactly like that, but close.

      Those great new raised beds you have ‘berta: I bet you can grow a LOT of stuff in there.

      • Rachelle says:

        OMG, I have done that!!! I have left tomato seedlings on poor unsuspecting plant parent-to-be’s door steps! No note, nothing. I thought I was the only bad plant mother acting like a misguided scared teenager of an indeterminant sort!

  10. Alberto says:

    Objection, Your Honor! The epic story of clematis cuttings was supposed to end here. They rooted, you won. But you don’t have enough, do you? You must dare your lucky star again with new cuttings… I wonder if there is some clematis left in your garden…
    I have no experience at all with seeds, in my pots not even weeds sprout! And now I wonder what are those baby plants with red stems. Please don’t tell me they are just some pathetic beet root!

    • linniew says:

      The trouble was that last year I didn’t get a cutting (or what Bridget calls a “slip”) from the jackmanii vine so I was still trying. I know you understand. (And my lucky star is pretty dependable most times.)

      Now I shall discuss the seedlings with the red stems. You are so perceptive Alberto, you really should be a Private Investigator. Yes they are beets. (Stop rolling your eyes like that.) Beet leaves, or greens (which are reddish) are lovely in salads and that’s why I like them. Of course the roots are also good roasted in the fall but I know this distresses you so don’t think about it.

  11. kininvie says:

    If I could be certain you hadn’t just nipped out and bought some young clematis from an Oregon nursery, I would gracefully concede…..
    So was all that stuff about the mice just to lead me on into a foolish gamble?
    Anyway, well done.
    Of course, if they get clematis wilt, the bet’s off.

    • linniew says:

      Dear Kininvie,

      Please don’t blame your rash wager on some poor dispatched mice.

      I did consider showing interim images of the plants’ growth but did not, in the interest of ever writing about something other than clematis cuttings. But, just for you, here’s a shot of two pots on March 8.

      clematis growth

      I’ve never heard of clematis wilt. It must be a thing local to Scotland or you made it up. I look forward to your beautifully carved neep–and no fair bribing some child to do it.

      • kininvie says:

        I’m certainly not making it up, as you can see from this link: You will note that it is especially a problem if you have BOUGHT clematis from somewhere else. Actually, in all sincerity, I hope you don’t get it, because it is a horrible sight. On the other hand, it would let me off the neep carving….

        • linniew says:

          Hi Kininvie
          For some reason WordPress put your comment in the “spam” list along with comments titled Hotels in San Francisco with Free Parking, asbestos attorney and amino acid… Could be they thought your comment was questionable in some way, I don’t know.

          I followed your link to the horror of clematis wilt. I apologize for thinking you made it up, and I appreciate that you don’t really wish it upon my innocent young clematisi, but you are most assuredly NOT let off the neep carving. You might, even now, start researching designs, and maybe doing some preliminary sketches of the elaborate coming work. Oh and maybe look for a set of fine quality carving tools.

          • Rachelle says:

            Oh clemmie wilt is very real. I hope you followed along far enough to know you must cut the plant to the ground, sanitize the tool, yourself, bag and discard the affected part (And then do all sort of ritualistic dancing during the next full moon to ward off further incursions of the wilt– or at least we have to do that here in central Wisconsin).

  12. Fussing with seeds and cuttings are the signs of a true gardener. I am glad you mentioned that about WordPress because I thought I was imagining it. Sometimes I will upload a perfectly clear photo and it will be blurry. I will do it again thinking that something went wrong in the process but no change and then I am too busy and off to something else. Have you ever emailed the “WP Happiness Engineers” about this problem?

    • linniew says:

      Hi Carolyn
      Long ago I consulted Prof. Google about the issue of image blurrification. I learned to make certain I changed the resolution to 72 pixels per inch in advance (because I believe WP will do that if you don’t) and then I reduce the image. I guess it is in general a size compression issue of some sort but I have by no means sorted it out. I do like the idea of “Happiness Engineers” and I will be calling them soon in regard to how I didn’t like the ending of HBO’s John From Cincinnati.

      Special note to you Carolyn: I peeked under the black plastic that has for some weeks covered the Lesser Celandine Burial Mound–and those things are BLOOMING under there. You were right.

  13. Foxglove Lane says:

    First of all just noticed the amazing mossy tree as a header to the blog, how gorgeous is that? As a rose tinted spectacles type I am more than seriously impressed with your green fingers! I am also so envious of these seedling dilemmas as I have nothing done and have been distracted by other stuff. I am now inspired to get going, thank you!

    • linniew says:

      Our weather has been so dreadful, the greenhouse was the only place to get my gardening fix. Happy to inspire you like your blog inspires me.

  14. Fay says:

    Hello Linnew
    I’m very concerned by this illicit seed switching going on – have you considered the people under the patio might be the culprits. As illegal squatters – you probably have some legal redress.

    I hear what you’re saying about splitting up the seedlings so young – how will they have a sense of community if they are jostled away from their siblings? I guess keeping them near when potted up may suffice as a measure for companionship and independence too.

    I’m so pleased you’ve learnt so much about law – anyway – about my sewing machine……….

    Excellent progress on the clematis cuttings, I can’t help you with tracing the experts whom clearly were’nt at hand. Bad experts. Give them solitary.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Fay

      There is so much that we do not know. I have heard that “possession is nine tenths of the law.” Does this apply to the real estate taken by the Brick People? Do they vacation in the greenhouse? And perhaps most important, are they drawn to a hobby of seed shuffling? (We all have our weaknesses.)

  15. Grace says:

    Those alleged “Balloon Flower” parties look similar to Impatiens seedlings. I say this in fear that it will just complicate matters. So, please kindly disregard it if Impatiens are not in your field of study (or otherwise).

    A huge, congratulatory salute for the success of the Clemmies! I do believe your spring-birthed baby is already putting down roots with full intention of staying on and taking up permanent residence.

    Sikes! I don’t think I’d want that scary woman for my judge.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Gracie!
      Boy if they are impatiens seedlings– well then those mice in the greenhouse must have their own garden plans in progress. I have never grown impatiens plants, and I own none of that sort of seed! Which does not preclude impatiens growing in the pots of course.

      It’s interesting how Tillie is scary, no matter what role she chooses. Really I’m most comfortable when she is asleep…

  16. Aimee says:

    Please keep posting about clematis cuttings! I’m planning on following in your footsteps and attempting to root some myself this year! Fingers are crossed that those are balloon flowers!

  17. Rachelle says:

    Ah, actually I was able to completely follow your Party of the First Pot tale…I have experience in this area it seems. Also, although,back-lurking is not exactly the same as having a time machine, it does have some similarities; the things I wonder about happening in the future have already taken place, something like reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” in the original Spanish. I will say, immediately upon learning the topic at hand was propagating clemmies, I went back to check the blog post’s date and breathed a sigh of relief as I felt you had inadvertently managed to start your slicing and dicing project in a window of probable success! Cheers! Glad they made it! I will join you in the future this summer to purvey said spectacular and dreamt of blooms!

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