Clematis ‘Azure Ball’ was created by the famous Polish breeder Stefan (Szczepan) Marczyński in 1999. The variety received its name only in 2013. The origin is unknown – the authors do not disclose it, because the patent for the variety is still valid.
|Early-flowering Large-flowered Clematis
|2 (light pruning)
|up to 7 feet (2 meters)
|large, 5.9 to 6.69 inches (15…17 cm) in diameter, double or semi-double
|from mid-May to the end of July
|Frost Hardiness Zones
‘Azure Ball’ forms shoots up to 2.5 meters long that can cling to supports with leafy tails. The leaves are triple-veined with oval pointed leaflets.
Flowering begins in mid-May and lasts until the end of July. Flowers are large, up to 17 cm across, terry and semi terry, appearing at a height of about 1 meter or more. Sepals are 6-8, the remaining numerous “petals” are staminodes. Staminodia are 20-40 pieces. Sepals and staminodes are delicate lilac-blue in color, with a more or less pronounced purple-violet stripe in the middle. On some flowers it is not expressed. Stamens are light-colored, with white-yellow stamen filaments and white anthers.
Clematis ‘Azure Ball’ planting and care
‘Azure Ball’ is a rather heat-loving variety of clematis, blooming on shoots of the last and current year. It will grow spectacularly in regions with long and long summers, but in regions with cold winters can freeze even under cover. However, it is known that even flower growers from Russia, where winters are quite severe, successfully grow this variety. It is only necessary to provide him with good conditions for growth.
When to plant clematis?
In my opinion, the best time to plant ‘Azure Ball’ is late August or early fall, when the soil temperature drops to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. These are optimal conditions for the clematis root system to develop. It can also be planted in the spring, but should be done when the soil temperature rises to 68 degrees Fahrenheit but the air remains cool.
The location for planting clematis should be well-lit and protected from wind, but in the case of ‘Azure Ball’, which can burn out, it will be good if the location is slightly shaded during midday hours. If you are planting clematis in southern states such as Florida, South Dakota, Texas, New Mexico or Southern California, it is recommended to plant it in semi-shade to protect the flowers from overheating and burnout.
The soil for clematis should be light, fertile, well-drained, slightly acidic or neutral. A slightly acidic soil is preferable for clematis, but soil fungi that cause wilt – the most dangerous disease for large-flowered clematis – are less likely to develop in a slightly alkaline soil.
How to prepare a planting hole for clematis?
The planting hole should be prepared in advance, and it should be large: it is better if it is at least a foot and a half in diameter and about a foot and a half deep. Do not put drainage at the bottom of the planting hole, even if the soil is dense clay, because all rainwater will collect there. Mix the soil removed from the planting hole with compost or humus at a ratio of one part compost to one part soil. Also add about one ounce of potassium sulfate and one ounce of superphosphate to this mixture to provide the plant with phosphorus and potassium.
How do I plant clematis?
If you are planting in spring or fall, carefully remove the clematis from the pot, pull apart the clump of soil and inspect the roots. If you have damaged or rotted roots, cut them off and sprinkle them with a remedy such as crushed earth, crushed ash or charcoal. Some authors recommend using ground cinnamon, but I think this is a strange recommendation. It is recommended to cover the entire root system, as well as the tillering nodes, with a mixture of sand and ash to protect against clematis wilt pathogens. After that, carefully plant it, spreading the roots in different directions. If you have purchased a clematis with a woody underside and it is 2 or 3 years old, plant it with 2 or 3 nodes deeper to make it more dense. If the clematis has only a green, woody underside, plant it at the same depth as it was growing in the pot. After planting, water the clematis abundantly to remove air gaps between the roots and the soil.
This is the end of the planting process.
Care of clematis ‘Azure Ball’
‘Azure Ball’ clematis should be cared for in the same way as any other large-flowered clematis. It is quite demanding of mineral nutrition, easily tolerates short droughts and requires special pruning.
How to water clematis ‘Azure Ball’
In prolonged dry weather, infrequent but abundant watering will be required. Pour about 10 liters of water immediately under the plant, under a young plant about 5 liters of water. After watering, loosen the topsoil to avoid excessive evaporation of moisture. It is better to use sun-warmed water for watering. Cold water from the water pipe or well can damage the roots.
I always try to mulch the soil around clematis to reduce weeds, protect the soil from overheating and avoid excessive water evaporation. To do this, I use freshly cut grass left over from mowing the lawn. I lay this grass in a layer of about an inch around the clematis, but do not press the grass closely against the stems, leaving a gap of a couple of inches. This is to prevent the clematis stems from overheating due to bacterial growth in the grass.
Fertilizing clematis is extremely important, as it renews its above-ground parts almost completely every year and flowers profusely. No matter how fertile the soil is, additional fertilization will be useful in the first year after planting. If the pit has been prepared correctly, as I described above, no fertilizer is required. You can only apply about 5 g of nitrogen at the beginning of the growing season to stimulate the growth of green mass, which will help to form a better root system. For the second and subsequent years, a more thorough feeding will be required.
- At the beginning of the vegetation, when the first green leaves appear, I use organic fertilizers: compost or humus. Most often it is compost, which I spread around the plant on the soil without embedding. I do not embed the fertilizer in the soil, because clematis has a superficial root system, and deep loosening can damage the roots. In addition, at this time I apply 10 g of nitrogen, 5 g of phosphorus and 5 g of potassium to the soil. In terms of active ingredient, potassium carbonite and potassium monophosphate are most often used, but other fertilizers can also be used.
- The second fertilization I make when clematis actively appear buds. I put into the soil 5 g of phosphorus, 5 g of nitrogen, 5 g of potassium, as well as a complex of macro- and microelements. I will not advise a specific manufacturer of fertilizers, because in each region there are different manufacturers and their brands.
- The third top dressing I conduct about three weeks or a month after the second, and it is the same in composition.
- The fourth and last feeding is carried out at the end of August. I apply 5 g of phosphorus and 5 g of potassium by active ingredient to ensure better maturation of the shoots and their preparation for winter.
Pruning clematis ‘Azure Ball’
‘Azure Ball’ belongs to pruning group 2. It flowers twice: first on last year’s shoots, then on the current year’s shoots. To ensure the best flowering, I do my pruning as follows:
The first year after planting in the fall, I cut all stems back to about one foot above a couple of strong buds. This way I lose the first bloom the following year, but get a thicker plant as all the buds will give vegetative shoots and branch out.
For the second and subsequent years, I prune twice a year. In summer, when flowering ends on the previous year’s shoots, I cut off the part of the previous year’s shoot where the flowers used to be and where the fruits are now.
This allows the plant to not waste energy on forming fruits and seeds.
I do the second pruning at the end of flowering. When flowering is over on the shoots of the current year, I cut off their generative part, i.e. the part of the shoots with flowers and fruits. After that, when the cold weather comes, I lay the shoots on the ground, press them with metal staples and cover them. To cover them, I use metal arcs or wooden bars, non-woven covering material and polyethylene film. First, I create a kind of air-filled structure out of twigs or metal arcs. Then I lay the heat-insulating material and on top – polyethylene film, which I press with stones. On the leeward side I always leave a vent for ventilation, ensuring the departure of excess moisture. In such conditions, even without snow, clematis well tolerate the winter even in severe frosts. I very rarely lose last year’s shoots. I dismantle this shelter only after the threat of severe frosts has passed.
The main danger for clematis is wilt. It is a disease caused by pathogenic soil fungi of the genus Fusarium, Verticillium and some others. The fungi penetrate, usually through the lower part of the shoot or roots, and fill the vessels inside the shoots. The transport of water is thus stopped, and the shoot quickly withers. We get what is called wilting or wilt. Such a shoot must be removed completely. In order to reduce the probability of wilt development, it is necessary to provide a slightly alkaline soil environment by applying ash, physiological alkaline fertilizers or lime solution. My soil itself is alkaline, so I rarely use liming.
In addition, sometimes watering the soil with fungicide solutions is used for additional protection against wilt. However, it should be understood that pathogenic fungi Fusarium and Verticillium are normal soil microflora, and it is impossible to get rid of them completely.
Reviews of clematis ‘Azure Ball’
- California, Los Angeles neighborhood: ‘Azure Ball’ blooms beautifully every year and requires little care, only feeding with a fertilizer I buy at a neighborhood store. No problems with this clematis since I transplanted it to a shadier part of the backyard.
- South Carolina: ‘Azure Ball’ is a great clematis, but its blooms burn out badly in our southern sun, so it is necessary to provide shade. I have it growing in the shade of shrubs whose names I partly do not know. Clematis and salt on these bushes, which makes it easier for me to care for him. Flowering is striking: the flowers are large, the size of the palm of your hand.
- Seattle: ‘Azure Ball’ is a stunning clematis, one of the most spectacular white clematis I have seen. It requires regular feeding. I feed it three times a year, using ready fertilizer for clematis and roses. Pruning is carried out according to the rules of group 2, there have been no problems with the wilt so far.
- Romania: Every year I cover clematis ‘Azure Ball’, covering it with sand, and then in the spring I just pull out the shoots. In the climate of Romania, the shoots are perfectly preserved. What do I do with sand, which every year I have to pour a new one? The recall does not tell you.
If you also grew clematis ‘Azure Ball’, please leave your feedback in the comments to the article. It will be useful to other readers of the site.