My new Clematis is not growing, what could be wrong?
Clematis can take several years to reach maturity and that length of time depends on the age of the plant when it is planted. A bare root infant can take 3-4 years to reach maturity. If you have purchased an "infant" in a small pot or plastic bag, it is best to nurse your young plant in a one gallon pot for the first summer and plant it in a permanent location in the autumn. You can also sink the entire pot into the ground in the autumn and plant it in a permanent location in the spring after the ground thaws. This helps to protect the young roots from damage. If you cannot sink the pot in the ground, a sheltered spot outside, or inside an unheated greenhouse will work as well.
Above ground growth the first year is usually pathetic while most of the growth is taking place under ground. A good root system is critical for a vigorous vine. The second year will result in a larger vine, and the third year will be larger yet. Be sure to fertilize and water your clematis as they require lots of each. This will create a strong root system and a good foundation for years of beautiful blooms. Tomato fertilizer, rose food, 5-10-10, or even an Osmocote type fertilizer are good choices. Slow release fertilizers are preferred.
For more information on fertilizers, see the FAQ entitled "How to feed a clematis - choosing fertilizers."
It is best to buy a well rooted plant from a garden center, mail order supplier who sells good size potted plants, or nursery if you want a faster growing plant. Clematis specialists take care in making sure that the cultivar is true to the label. Be sure to check the drain holes and make sure the roots are visible. Plant the clematis about three inches lower in the hole than the pot level.
For more on how to plant your clematis, see the FAQ concerning "How to plant a clematis."