Transplanting a Clematis Virginiana

(Question)

Hello. I live in Toronto. For years we have enjoyed a beautiful vine that has grown from my neighbor’s yard up an electrical pole and onto some wires across our yard. Though it does not sound great it is actually beautiful, especially late summer when the white flowers bloom. The birds love staying in these vines in the summer. I have looked it up and it appears to be a Woodbine/Clematis Virginiana. My neighbor plans on cutting it down in a week or two because he is building a new fence. He knows how much we love this vine. I was hoping to find a way to transplant it to our property. Is there any way of doing this? Transplanting or somehow cutting the ends and trying to grow some new roots to plant on our side? I have no idea how it could work but I really have to act quickly and hope we can somehow save this beautiful vine. The photo is not the best, but you can see it in bloom with its white flowers. I think it is a Woodbine clematis. Thanks again for any help you can provide.Right now it is just bare. It has been established for many years. Thank you for any help you can provide. My back yard is north facing and the soil has been sandy but we have tried to add better soil over the years.

 

Woodbine VIne

(Answer)

With your neighbor’s cooperation you might be able to dig up enough of a root ball to successfully transplant this vine to another location on your property, but it will need a structure of some kind to support it as it grows upwards.   It will take a year or two to regain it’s stature, but Clematis virginiana can thrive after a hard pruning if the roots survive.   Cut the vine a foot or two above the ground. Dig up at least a 12 inch rootball and dig deep as the roots of a mature clematis can extend 4 feet into the ground.  Dig a hole larger than the root ball and amend the soil with some compost, mulch and be sure to water it regularly until it shows some signs of life.  You may need to be patient while the roots get established first, and then the vine will start to grow.  If the main stem is very large, you might be able to use a sucker — a side shoot coming out of the ground near the main stem — instead.

If the flowers are fragrant, and the leaves are in groups of three then this is probably the clematis vine that you think it is.  Alternatively it might be a silver lace vine (Polygonum aubertii).    This has a similar look to the picture, but the flowers are not fragrant, and the leaves are single.   Silver lace vines are VERY fast growers so the easiest thing would be to just buy one of your own.

If you want to get professional help, Landscape Ontario (landscapeontario.com) maintains a list of reputable companies by location.