Friday quiz – the tale of two clematis continues

A few weeks ago I showed you photos of iron toxicity in a Clematis planted in a soggy soil (perched water table).  Because this area is just not conducive to plants, we’re putting in a small deck.  This necessitated the excavation of two Clematis, which were both suffering from wet feet.  (Needless to say the root mass was very small and shallow on both plants.)  We decided to put them into large planters with conical trellises and use them as deck plants.

During our pond excavation we retained the topsoil and sieved it for uses just like this (for woody planting, not annuals).  The soil is a clay loam and has been stored in a garbage can to keep it dry.  Anyway, the first pot I filled with this good soil, added water, and worked the soil with my hands to ensure it was thoroughly hydrated.  As holes developed, I added more soil and continued to work it in by hand.  I then installed the first plant and watered it thoroughly.

After observing what happened during the next several hours with this plant, I installed the second plant differently – I watered the soil but did not work it by hand to hydrate it.  I added the plant as before and then watered everything thoroughly; I added soil where holes developed.  I then redid the first container in the same manner as the first.

What happened to the first container that caused me to change my installation technique?  And why didn’t it happen with the second container?  Answers and photos Monday!

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Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and a Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - Books:

3 thoughts on “Friday quiz – the tale of two clematis continues”

  1. i have two guesses. either the clematis lifted from the soil it was planted in or it wilted. i base both of these guesses on the same concept which is either correct or just the result of me trying to imagine what soil and water would do in this situation. i think that the root ball and the hydrated soil did not “cooperate” with each other. either the plant lifted because it had less density in the root ball or it wilted because the water was filling the pores of the pre-hydrated soil. the water would not enter the root ball until the planting soil was saturated, which would not occur assuming the planters have proper drainage. i hope this guess is at least on the right track. what happened to photos?!?

  2. Sorry, Jon, can’t add the photos until Monday – or it gives away the first part of the question!

  3. My guess is that you’ve either created cement or pottery depending upon the amount of sand in that clay soil.

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