Ignorance Is Bliss

“Ignorance Is Bliss”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

I have often wondered how “fussy” plants make it out in the wild.  You know, those plants that have to be treated with kid gloves – not too much water/ copious water, not too much sun/ full sun, not too much heat/cold.  Then there are the reportedly high maintenance plants that make it with no special treatment at all, unless, of course, you really want it to thrive in your garden.

Case in point, my neighbor’s clematis.  We all know the drill, plant at the right depth, leaves in the sun and roots in the shade, prune according to its type, watch out for wilt, etc.  Here in the Gulf South, many of the large flowering clematis do not survive long because of our heat and humidity.  My neighbor bought this clematis at one of the big box stores about five years ago.  It was one of those that was wrapped in a plastic bag and very inexpensive.  She planted it next to her mailbox and then just ignored it.  This is what she is rewarded with every year.


No fertilizer or extra water, no shading the roots, no special treatment, just benign neglect.  She cuts it down whenever she feels it looks straggly or unattractive.  This may be three times in a year.  Do you think I could do this and have it survive?  No way.  Maybe she is just lucky with this particular vine.  I think it must be because both she and the clematis never read what the experts say about caring for a clematis.



  1. April 8, 2009 at 5:01 am

    So true about care, Jan. I see that certain plants are reportedly high-maintenance and you see practically that they grow with no maintenance at all. I’ve heard that it isn’t easy to germinate Jequirity and I followed the instructions, soaked the seeds overnight and sowed them and soaked few others non-soaked separately and guess what? The ones that were soaked never made it and the non-soaked ones germinated 2 out of 3 and I hardly care for it and it’s flowering crazily now!

    • Jan said,

      April 8, 2009 at 5:00 pm

      Chandramouli, you just proved all the experts wrong. I know sometimes we need to replicate the conditions under which something grows, but some instructions make me wonder how some plants ever make it.

      Janet, I guess beginner’s luck is with her. You are right, maybe if she didn’t keep cutting it back it would be fuller and bigger.

      Donna, I have only tried sweet autumn and crispa clematises which are both small flowered types. Maybe I need to try the big flowered ones and do as my neighbor does.

      Helen, I guess you are right, but many gardeners like a challenge.

      Randy, I am sure you will have great success with your clematis just as you have with everything else. I am so glad you were able to find Amelia; I know you will love it in your garden.

      April, that’s exactly what I mean. You do everything “they” tell you, and still the darn plant doesn’t live. Frustrating, right?

      Michelle, I know I have had some success with plants that aren’t supposed to do well this far south. A great gardener or just dumb luck?

      Kate, especially if you pay a great deal of money for a plant, and it doesn’t make it even after faithfully following all the instructions. That’s the problem I have had with astilbe.

  2. Janet said,

    April 8, 2009 at 5:13 am

    She must be one with beginner’s luck, which can last a long time! Perhaps if she had followed the ‘directions’ it would have been larger and have more blooms. It is certainly a pretty one.

  3. donna said,

    April 8, 2009 at 5:18 am

    I’ve never had success with a clematis….think I must fuss over it too much. There is something to be said for ignorance. But, good for your neighbor.

  4. April 8, 2009 at 5:42 am

    I think fussy plants are only fussy as we are trying to grow them in a situation which is different to their natural environment. In the wild where they grow naturally they will have all the shade, water etc they need or they wouldnt grow there.
    I think the lesson for us is to not to try and grow plants when we dont have the right conditions for them or if we do want to grow them then we have to be prepared to put in the effort.

  5. Randy said,

    April 8, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Jan, I hope we have that kind of luck with our Clematis this year. It’s our first time trying. BTW we were able to find ‘Amelia’ this weekend and I’m tickled.

  6. April said,

    April 8, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Go figure!!! We prune when time, fertilize as need, and some just never do right!!!!!!!!!

  7. michelle said,

    April 8, 2009 at 11:03 am

    thats seems to be how it goes. those who don’t know what they are doing do it best! UGH!!!

  8. April 8, 2009 at 11:25 am

    It’s not fair, is it?

  9. Phillip said,

    April 8, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    I pruned some of my clematis back last month and now I’m kicking myself because I’m not seeing buds. There are 3 different ways to prune the darn things depending on what kind you have. I guess frustration is required for something that beautiful.

    • Jan said,

      April 8, 2009 at 5:02 pm

      Phillip, that is frustrating. I can tell you my neighbor cut hers back just three weeks ago and will do so at least once during the summer, and she still gets blooms. Don’t give up hope, it may just bloom later than normal.

  10. Sheila said,

    April 8, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Good for her! Isn’t it nice when someone has success in spite of what all the ‘experts’ say?

    • Jan said,

      April 8, 2009 at 6:33 pm

      Yes, Shelia, it is great that hers is doing so well. At least I get to enjoy hers whenever I pass her mailbox.

  11. Jean said,

    April 8, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Wow, that’s truly amazing. She is one lucky person! I can’t imagine having that kind of gardening luck. You are so spot on.

    • Jan said,

      April 9, 2009 at 4:27 am

      Jean, the thing that really surprises me, is how she cuts it back. I know sometime this summer that she will whack this vine back, and it will grow back and bloom! That is what I find so unreal.

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