I have seen some amazing fruits of your labor this summer. Many of you have sent photos of jumbo vegetables and monster plants. How about a vine that climbs almost over a house? Marty Kralik of Rossford has a clematis that might be related to Jack's bean stalk!
"I started growing one clematis vine around my yard about five years ago," Mr. Kralik said. "I have other plants and lots of vines like Morning Glory. But this Autumn Clematis is huge. My friends didn't believe me until I posted a picture of it on Facebook."
This Autumn Clematis shoots over 30 feet up the northeast side of Mr. Kralik's home and on to his rooftop. "It gets early morning sun and obviously loves it. I have other vines started from the same plant as this one, but they aren't nearly this big. It is crazy."
Clematis terniflora is usually filled with a lot of white blossoms that make it look like a big cloud as it grows. It resembles Clematis virginiana, also known as Virgin's Bower, which blooms earlier in the year. Both are aggressive growers and in some areas can be considered an invasive species that will choke out other less prolific plants.
Mr. Kralik said he has many starts around his yard. "The seed pods go all over the yard in the winter and early spring. They blow all over the yard and start seeding themselves. I just give them to my friends or put them in another spot. They are really easy to grow."
According to the University of Illinois, its extremely fragrant blooms usually last about a month and a half. When the blooms die off, each flower is replaced by a cluster of achenes with long spreading styles with what looks like long white protruding hairs. They almost look feathery. These light seedpods can float in the wind helping them reseed themselves.
Last year, It was about 20 feet tall and was close to the roof of the house. But after a heavy rain, it fell over. I found it in a big mess on my deck. I didn't have it secured to the house in any way. I just let it grow on its own. This year, I've let it attach itself to a trellis and also secured it to keep it off of my downspout so it doesn't damage my house."
This particular vine has literally grown in leaps and bounds over the last five years. He said, "It was about four feet the first year, then the third year, it started shooting up the side of the side of the house. The last couple years it has climbed up to the second story of the house and now it is up to the roof."
Quiet in the winter
Mr. Kralik said caring for this amazing vine is really easy. "I just let the vine die off in the winter. The seedpods blow around and I end up cutting it down in early March. I cut it about as tall as my waist and pull off all of the dead parts until there's nothing left up there. By Easter, the shoots start to come out again and the vine grows even taller."
This gigantic vine has two main branches at the base that are about an inch and a half in diameter and eight smaller ones that are about a half inch in diameter.
He has a few other clematis vines around his landscape, but none is as big as this. "I guess you could say I like all kinds of perennials, but I'm a clematis connoisseur."
Contact Kelly Heidbreder at email@example.com.