When Plants Disobey - Clematis 'Pink Fantasy'

I had visions of a nice line up of Clematis vines along the back fence that borders the vegetable garden. The vines would grow up various and sundry trellises, that in and of themselves would be architecturally interesting, and provide color and interest throughout the season.

I started my little line up with three clematis that had to be moved for the garden design and three old trellises.

"How's that going for you, Carol?"

It is not going as I had planned, thank you for asking.

Clematis 'Pink Fantasy' pictured above, is refusing to climb up the trellis, even though when it was planted in the front yard, it climbed a trellis just fine.

With great authority and strong words, I have carefully, gently, yet firmly, lifted it up off the muddy ground and put it back on the trellis at least three times, if not twice.

Now stay! And climb! And bloom some more while you are at it!

Then the minute my back is turned...

It's back on the ground again.  Did I just hear someone or some plant laugh?

Honestly, what does it think it is? A shrub clematis? Hardly.  Here's a shrub clematis... Clematis integrifola 'Alba', kind of in the center in the picture. Yes, the white, bell-shaped blooms in the center there.
That's how a shrub clematis behaves. I do not expect it to climb.

But Clematis 'Pink Fantasy' -- I expect it to climb.

What's a gardener to do when a clematis that should climb without the aid of clips, ties, or bondage of any kind, refuses to climb?

I am already beginning the process of disassociating myself from this clematis to prepare for its inevitable removal from my garden..

I think the flowers look fake, almost  like plastic as shown in this picture from a previous year when it climbed.
 What was I thinking when I bought this?  I don't even like the flowers.

That's two strikes now.  Strike one - it doesn't climb like it should. Strike two - its flowers look like plastic. I just need a third strike, and it is out.

Strike three - it disobeyed me!

It's out!


  1. Poor little Clematis....so misunderstood(heehee)!
    We have tried it all for covering fences and our new favorite is Golden Hops. Not so good for beer, but what a vigorous golden vine :)


  2. Oh Carol, I hope you can find a more obedient clematis. That clematis acts like my children sometimes! Does that sound familiar?

  3. If we were neighbors I'd take that disobedient plant off your hands, Carol!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  4. Hate that when they won't behave - I'm thinking of golden hops sulking just now at the base of their intended tree. Sometimes threats work, but often disassociation in the form of the compost pile is the only way...

  5. not quite a third strike, but maybe a foul ball when she's already got two strikes... The name. Sounds like something you might find in the sketchier corners of the Internet.

    Not bad enough to reject it outright, but definitely not helping.

  6. It seems your umpiring is unfair to me. Why don't you tie it up to get it going? Also, clemmies need something quite thin to wrap their leaves around, the wood is too thick. Put black bird netting over the trellis, it won't show. Just trying to help out, here. :-)

  7. I think the problem is that the Clematis is trying to grow in the light and so it keeps leaning away from the fence and trellis. Were this a Clematis that you liked, I'd suggest thin bamboo sticks stuck in the ground at an angle leading to the trellis to encourage the plant to grow toward the trellis and those green, stretchy tomato ties to get it started onto it. The other thing I'd suggest is a different trellis, one with smaller supports that would enable the Clematis to grab onto it more easily, such as a thin metal one.

  8. You will be the ultimate judge but let me just say that up until a year ago I disliked passion flower because it 'looked like plastic' and now I have one and am really liking it.

  9. I agree with Fairegarden and Mr. Mcgregor's Daughter that the poor thing needs a little help getting started up the trellis.

    As to the color, that is entirely up to you.


  10. I have one that won't climb either. Mine is a soft lavender, and when it's in full bloom, I call it my casket piece.

  11. I say off with its head! I think clematis has disappointed me more than any other plant. This spring a lone variety came back from extinction, even climbed up a few feet. Then a warm humid day arrived....smokage. the new leaves and flowers in formation just melted...off with its head.