Overwintering small patio-sized clematis still in a pot

(Question)

Good afternoon
I purchased a small clematis bijou at the plant sale this spring at TBG. It has flowered twice [still one flower left]. It is sheltered on my deck. I’m wondering how to overwinter it. Can I repot it in a slightly bigger pot and bury it in a sheltered spot in the garden?

(Answer)

Hi,

Ooh, these new patio clematis vines are wonderful. Especially when they bloom twice in one season! No wonder you want to over-winter your containerized plant.

Your idea for burying these Zone 4 plants into the ground is a good one. And slipping the pot into another one makes it easy to remove the potted clematis come spring. If it’s growing in a terra cotta pot, though, be sure to transfer it to a plastic one that will weather our winter weather. The only thing I would add is to mulch it with a layer of chopped leaves, about 8 centimetres deep.

Alternatively, you could move the pot to a heated garage or basement where the temperatures remain above freezing, but cool enough for the plant to go dormant. Be sure to check on your plant from time to time and water it before the soil begins to dry out.

With either method, prune the vines come spring with a ponytail cut. It’s easy. Just grab a clump of stems by the hand and with one fell swoop of the secateurs, cut them all off at about 15 centimetres above soil level. That’s all there is to it. In our climate, it’s time for a ponytail cut in late spring, just as the buds begin to swell.

I hope you enjoy your clematis for many seasons to come!