Bad Neighbors For Clematis

A large wisteria trunk

If you’ve been gardening for a while I’m sure you may have naïvely planted a plant or two that you later regretted introducing into your garden.  I know I have hosted a couple of very undesirable horticultural characters, so it is my hope that this article will help steer you away from making any selections that could be stressful to your garden’s peaceful environment.

Bad neighboring plants fall into several different categories-some potentially worse than others.  But all should be avoided when it comes to protecting your precious clematis.

Before planting a “new clematis” in your garden, ask yourself if will it be near any or all of the following: (see below)? 

A Water Hog – Will it be in close proximity to a plant(s) with an insatiable thirst such as an enormous tree?

A Wetland  – Will it be situated in a waterlogged area in which only swamp inhabitants can survive?

A Desert Hideaway – Will it be located in a in a barren locale where only cactus should   carouse.

Also, ask yourself before planting a new introduction(s) into your existing garden if it is: ____ (see below)? 

A Slob - Will it have messy habit, i.e. constantly dumping leaf litter or sap?

A Self-Seeder – Will it distribute masses of unwanted seedlings that you will constantly have to remove or, worse yet, are hard to eradicate?

A Strangler – Does it have heavy-duty tendrils?  Plants with tendrils can possess a “death grip”, meaning they are capable of choking anything in their path.  I personally would never want to see one of my babies (aka clematis) succomb to death by suffocation from a plant such as a Passion Vine (Passiflora).

A Property Line Trespasser – Will it take over the rest of your garden plants with its wandering ways?  Anyone who has witnessed the assault of  Morning Glory, Wisteria, Ivy or some Bougainvilleas know what I am talking about.

A Neighborhood Thug – This final category could easily be considered the worst of the bunch.  These are plants that are aggressive brutes which take great pleasure from lurking in the background pretending to be a well-behaved neighbor, but all the while secretivly planning their underground attact with their roots, runners or rhizomes.  Once they have surreptitiously taken over they are almost impossible to get rd of without constance diligence over a long periond of time.  This list of suspects include: Equisetium, Bamboo, Mexican Evening Primrose, Artemsia ‘Limelight’, Japanese Anemomes and Mint.  If you have ever had the misfortune to invite any, a few or all of these thugs into your garden, I’m sure you will agree they are all definitly plants from hades.

Morning Glories

Morning Glories & Ivy running free

In the 90’s I can remember working at a nursery when I saw a couple carrying out 2-1 gallon Mexican Evening Primroses and a 1-gallon Morning Glory and saying to myself, “Thank goodness I don’t live next door to this twosome”.  Sadly, that particular nursery and other nurseries (both retail and web-based) still continue today to sell these extremely invasive plants.  I personally feel it is a great disservice to gardeners to offer these offensive and aggressive types of plants.  In good conscience, if nurseries insist on selling these plants from the dark side, I would think at the bare minimum that there should always be prominent signs or verbiage on their website that “clearly warn” of the extremely intrusive nature of these culprits.  Had any of the nurseries that I originally bought my horicultural nightmares from done so, I’d be greatly indebted for their honesty for saving me time (i.e. several years) of battling with a couple of these nasty neighbors.

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