Weatherford Democrat

October 20, 2013

ASK A MASTER GARDENER: You don’t have to prune clematis in the fall, but it is a good idea


Weatherford Democrat

Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to pcmgaquestions@gmail.com. For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit www.pcmg-texas.org.



Should I prune my clematis?

Pruning clematis depends on the gardener’s preference. Do you care if the foliage looks unattractive in the fall and winter? At this time of year, foliage on clematis usually is rather brownish and ugly.

I always prune my clematis in October because I don’t care for the unsightly appearance. I prune it so it will have enough time before the first freeze to grow from one to two feet. If not pruned now, the vine will continue to grow in height, and may be damaged by winter winds if not secured.

Do you want the vine to grow and cover a trellis or other structure? I train mine to grow on different structures in the garden, and this requires pruning in the spring.

When I notice buds appearing, I start at the top of the vine and inspect it going down toward the ground. Then I cut above a healthy looking bud removing and discarding all unwanted foliage above that bud. The clematis will continue to grow from the place where it was pruned, allowing you to attach it to the structure as it grows.



How do I get rid of poison ivy?

If possible, remove it by hand while it is still a seedling in the spring. Wear gloves and protective clothing while pulling it out, discard gloves and plants in the trash, put clothes immediately in the washing machine and bathe with soap capable of dissolving poison ivy oil on the skin such as Ivarest or Tecnu. You may also choose to use an herbicide with glyphosate and triclopyr listed as active ingredients. Carefully follow label instructions.

Monitor vines for re-growth even after plants seems to be dead. Even with a strong herbicide, poison ivy can return within a few days. Apply herbicide to any new growth until completely eliminated. This may take a few weeks.



When should I take hummingbird feeders down? Will I stop the hummingbirds from migrating if I leave them out?

Hummingbirds have an internal clock that tells them when to migrate. The presence of feeders will not affect the timing. When you provide feeders, nectar-bearing plants, and natural habitat features you are helping the migrating birds as well as our native hummers that remain with us year-round.