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I would like train a clematis to grow on a pyramidal trellis.

The first year, I tried centering the trellis over the plant and having it grow through the center, but this seems to stifle the plant and tended to obscure the flowers.

This year, I have one corner of the trellis located behind the plant with the hopes of training it to two sides of the trellis.

Is there a better way to do this?

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You haven't said which variety of clematis; if its a species such as montana, it'll be too big for your trellis. Otherwise, the vast majority of the clematis hybrids climb by means of modified leaves called petioles, and these need something thin to wrap around, something like mesh or a thin pea stick. Unfortunately, your trellis isn't something they can attach to because of the thickness of the struts. That's problem one; second problem is, if you don't place the obelisk over the plant so that its in the middle, but leave it to one side as you describe, if the clematis could attach itself, it would only climb up the one side it can reach. The thickness of the lathes also means reduced light for any plant trying to grow up through the middle of this structure.

The best type of obelisk for clematis is actually metal, because it usually has much thinner struts and is more open - the one you have is better for growing a twining plant, such as honeysuckle, which will easily wrap itself round the supports and won't be too troubled by being in the middle of the obelisk - the obelisk should be placed so that the plant is in the centre.

If you really want to grow clematis up it, you could cover it in chicken wire or actual clematis mesh, which clematis can use as a support, but this means you will not see so much of the obelisk itself. Otherwise you'd need to tie on growths yourself all the time, and that's not easy with clematis, the stems are quite fragile.

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    To a degree, yes, but mine is shaded on two sides and still grows up the shady sides, just not so enthusiastically.
    – Bamboo
    May 16 '17 at 15:40
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    No, not where mine is, its in position in its pot and stays in the same position. But judging by the size of the pictured obelisk/trellis, its way too big and heavy for a pot.
    – Bamboo
    May 16 '17 at 15:41
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You might consider a symbiotic arrangement. That is, some other climber (sweet pea, campsis?) that flowers at a different time or lower down (clematis flowers seem to like height) that would cling to the pyramid and provide the framework for the clematis to climb up.

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  • Lathyrus odoratus won't work - they're scramblers and need something thin to wrap round, just like clematis. Campsis gets 35 feet...and if you prune it hard to keep it small, it won't flower...
    – Bamboo
    May 16 '17 at 18:03

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