Clematis Appears Stunted With Small Leaves And Flowers That Start To Wilt Before Fully Opening

Question From: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Q: I've had a violet colored clematis for a few years that I bought via mail order from Spring Hill. It has always done poorly. The leaves are tiny, and the flowers are small, and the petals on the flowers start to wilt before the flower is fully opened. I moved it 2 year ago to a sunnier location, hoping that would help. I now get more than 1 stem, and the plant is a bit fuller, still it appears 'stunted'. I'm attaching a picture. Any idea what might be causing this? I don't think it's clematis wilt, and it is not turning brown and drying up - it just appears 'stunted'. Thanks in advance - Joan

A: Joan, It could be a weak sister that will never thrive. I've seen a million Knock Out Roses in the last decade. They are covered with blooms in gas stations an road medians as well as home landscapes. I have one in my perennial bed that has been well tended and in 3 years it has failed to thrive. This spring my roses have put on an incredible show. My Knock Out - 3 blooms. It's out of here. Here are a couple of tips that may help . Always plant clematis 2 inches deeper in the soil then it was previously grown. I mix compost and composted bark in the with the soil before planting. Shading the roots with possibly a ground cover or a thick flat stone will also help it. Keep the soil moist. Along with my roses I fertilize a couple of times a season with a slow release organic fertilizer, such as Rose Tone by Espoma. Hope this helps. Best And Happy Yardening, Nancy.