Did you know that Clematis, the “Queen of the Vines,” has more than 300 species and hundreds of hybrids, with flowers in the shapes of saucers, bells, tubes, tulips, open bells, doubles, and semidoubles? It may be best known for its huge, purple, star-shaped blossoms on twining vines. Find out more about clematis and how to make this lovely plant flourish!
As clematis comes in a wide range of colors, flower sizes, and forms, there are numerous alternatives. Some thrive in the sun while others do better in the shade. Popular perennial clematis is a climber or trailing plant that grows well in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 8. They are a fantastic choice for a wall, fence, or trellis. The trailing varieties sprawl along the ground before emerging among the perennials that are nearby.
The profusion of blooms produced by small-flowering kinds lasts longer than those of larger varieties. Numerous kinds have scents. Some are shrubs or trailing kinds, while others are vines. Some people originate from North America.
Some flower in the spring, while others do so in the late summer. If you choose the correct clematis kinds, you could enjoy vibrant flowers flowering throughout the year.
The majority of clematis cultivars require at least six full sun hours. The delicate roots, however, are unable to withstand the heat. They need a location that is or may be cool and shaded. Relief for the roots can be achieved by using mulch, low-growing vegetation, and ground cover.
When to Plant Clematis
- Anytime between the final spring frost and the first fall frost, plant potted clematis.
- in the early fall or spring. Avoid planting during the hottest part of the summer since the intense heat and sun can make it harder for the plant to take root.
How to Plant Clematis
- A neutral pH and loose, well-draining soil are requirements for clematises. Add a couple handfuls of bonemeal along with compost or aged manure if necessary before planting.
- Create a planting hole that is a couple of inches deeper and around two to three times the width of the root ball.
- With the crown of the plant 4 to 6 inches below the soil’s surface, place it in the hole. This will promote subsurface branching and stem growth.
- To keep the roots cool and weed growth to a minimum, fill in with soil, properly water it, and mulch.
- If utilizing, place the climbing structure.
Weekly irrigation will keep the soil moist during the first year. Keep the soil from drying out. To protect the roots in colder climates, lay more mulch around the plant in the late fall.
- Don’t disrupt or move the plant once it is planted. . Apply a liquid seaweed or fish emulsion fertilizer in the spring. Use a balanced, all-purpose (5-10-5) fertilizer in the following years.
- Spread compost around the plant each spring, being careful to keep it away from the stems.
- Trim back dead wood in the spring, trimming above newly appearing buds.
- On older plants, remove any stems in spring that are 4 years old or older.
Group 1: Early to midspring sees the emergence of flowers on previous year’s growth. Only after flowering is minimal pruning required, if desired. C. armandii, C. alpine, C. cirrhosis, C. macropetula, and C. montana are a few examples.
Group 2: Flowers that are double or semidouble may bloom twice: in May/June on wood from the previous year and later that same year on fresh shoots. After the spring blossoms have faded, prune. At the end of winter, remove dead wood. Hybrids like “Miss Bateman,” “Lake Sondesborough,” “Nelly Moser,” “Henry,” “Marie Boisselot,” and “Elsa Spath” are examples.
Group 3: Huge, eye-catching blooms throughout the summer and fall on the growth of the current year. Cut back severely in the late winter or early spring, leaving each stem with two pairs of buds. C. recta, C. x jackmanii, and C. viticella are examples of common variations.
What clematis is most suitable for climbing?
Climbing clematis are gorgeously spectacular plants that blossom profusely over an extended period of time. They thrive in patio pots and borders, and they may be trained to climb trellises, obelisks, and pergolas to give the garden much-needed height.
In the summer, fertilize plants once a week with tomato fertilizer and deadhead to extend flowering. If you’re growing clematis in a pot, pick a sizable one and repot it every two years into John Innes No. 3 compost with slow-release fertilizer added. To shield the roots from the sun’s heat, mulch the surface.
Annual pruning is required for clematis with summer blooms. Group 2 clematis that bloom in May or June should be pruned at the end of June before being cut back to vigorous buds in February or March. Group 3 clematis are those that flower in the late summer and must be clipped according to our recommendations for winter-pruning clematis.
To guarantee that the roots are mature before planting, consider clematis that are at least two years old (in 2-3 litre pots).
Climbing clematis are gorgeously spectacular plants that blossom profusely over an extended period of time.
Clematis ‘Warszawska Nike’
This clematis, a cultivar of Clematis jackmanii, blooms in the late spring through early summer and the fall with velvety purple flowers. reaches a height of 3 meters. Group 3 pruning
Clematis ‘Night Veil’
Small, semi-nodding blooms with a redder central band on each petal and white filaments with dark purple anthers are produced by the cultivar “Night Veil.” It can grow to a height of 250 cm and is excellent for obelisk training. Group 3 pruning
Clematis florida ‘Alba Plena’
From June through October, double, greenish-white blooms are in bloom. Plant this cultivar in full light for up to two meters of tall stems. You can cultivate “Alba Plena” in a container. Group 3 pruning
Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’
‘Etoile Violette’ is the perfect plant for growing through an evergreen or spring-flowering shrub since it produces an abundance of rich, deep purple blooms all summer long. Grow it in front of a light background for the finest results. ‘Etoile Violette’ has a height of 4m. Group 3 pruning
In May and June, there are a lot of huge blooms, which may then vanish until September. In the slow month of July, trim the stems back to encourage more. Deep shadow is not a good environment for “Kingfisher” to develop. Group 2 of pruning.
‘Picardy,’ a plant that does well in containers, produces a lot of very few but many flowers. Sometimes, these are semi-double. Age causes previously deeply dark blossoms to become lighter. Group 3 pruning
Clematis ‘Princess Diana’
From June to September, this clematis species from Texas blooms with vivid pink long, slender tepals that are contrasted by bright green foliage. “Princess Diana,” one of these clematis’ tallest varieties, will grow to a height of 3 meters. Place it in the sun or some shade. Group 3 pruning
Clematis viticella ‘Jolly Jake’
To get masses of flowers on new growth, prune this hardy, vigorous violet-burgundy variety in February to a height of 20 cm, or let it scramble through a trellis and flower on branch tips. Pruning Group 3.
‘Chatsworth’ is a robust growth that does best when taught to grow through a tree or shrub or up a solid obelisk in a sizable herbaceous border. Group 3 pruning
Thank you to the clematis experts listed below who supplied details on the plants in this feature:
Do clematis plants require a trellis?
- The optimum time to plant clematis is in the spring or in the early to mid-autumn since the warm, wet soil during these seasons promotes healthy root development.
- If you purchase a plant in a container during the summer, plant it as soon as you can and give it regular waterings.
- While you can plant clematis at other seasons, you should avoid doing it in wet or frozen soil and during dry spells.
Where to plant
Consider the following factors while selecting a location for your plant:
- The majority of clematis will thrive in either full sun or mild shade, although blossoming in a very shady location is typically disappointing. Herbaceous plants need to be in full sun.
- Some evergreen plants, such as those that bloom in the winter and spring, require a protected area since they are less hardy.
- Climbing clematis require cool, wet roots, so plant the base of these clematis in light shade or provide shading with additional plants or a pebble bed.
- Clematis are aggressive climbers and will quickly become an annoyance in a place that is too tiny, so give it adequate room to develop.
- Think about how you’ll hold the stems of your plant. Climbing clematis require a support structure, such as a trellis or mesh tied to a wall or fence, to twine around, whilst herbaceous clematis do best when planted through plant supports or into surrounding shrubs.
Make sure the mesh or trellis sticks out from the wall or fence by at least 2.5 cm to allow your clematis to scramble over and properly cover its support (1in). The most straightforward way to accomplish this is to fasten the netting or trellis to 2.5cm (1in) deep battens at either end.
Prepare your soil
Although clematis can thrive in a variety of soil types, they prefer deep, fertile soil that is damp but well-drained. Before planting, work in some organic matter, such as leaf mould or well-rotted manure, to improve the structure of heavy or sandy soils.
- Early and late summer flowering large-flowered hybrid cultivars should be planted with the top of the rootball 5-7.5cm (2-3in) below the soil’s surface. This helps the plant recover if it contracts clematis wilt and stimulates new shoots to emerge from the soil.
- Clematis species and cultivars, such as Clematis viticella and C. tangutica, that flower in the winter, spring, late summer, and autumn, as well as herbaceous clematis, should be planted with the top of the rootball slightly below the soil’s surface.
- Dig the planting hole so that the rootball will sit around 30-45 cm (1-foot-18 inches) from the base if you are planting against a wall or fence; if there is guttering or an overhanging roof, dig the hole further out. If necessary, assist the plant to achieve its long-term support with a bamboo cane.
Growing clematis into trees and shrubs
When growing clematis to climb a tree or large shrub, there are a few extra factors to think about:
- The clematis should be planted on the windward side of the tree or shrub so that as it matures and its stems expand, they are blown into the trunk or into the branches, where they can take root.
- To lessen competition for light, water, and nutrients, place the clematis at least 1.2 meters (4 feet) away from the base of the tree or shrub. This is crucial if growing into a conifer or a tree with a deep root system, such a beech or cherry.
- If required, assist the clematis in reaching the trunk or branches using wires or a bamboo cane.
- Avoid covering dead trees or tree stumps with clematis since they can quickly become hosts for diseases, especially honey fungus.
Growing clematis in containers
When trained up an obelisk or tiny trellis, smaller-growing clematis make lovely container plants.
This is how to grow clematis:
- Use a potting compost that is based on soil, such as John Innes No. 2, and a pot that is at least 45 cm (18 in) deep and broad.
- Keep in mind that clematis in pots still want their roots to be kept cool; thus, top-dress the pot with a layer of pebbles, plant low-growing plants like summer bedding in the same pot, or place other planted pots on the sunward side.
- It can be very dry there, so try to avoid planting container-grown clematis right up against the base of a wall or fence, especially if there are gutters or an overhanging roof nearby. Place yourself about 30 cm (1 foot) away or in a more open area instead.
Do clematis require a climb?
I had a variety of roles as a founding worker at Gardener’s Supply over the years. I currently run my own business, which is called Johnnie Brook Creative. A huge vegetable garden, a seasonal greenhouse, a cutting garden, perennial gardens, a rock garden, a shade garden, berry plantings, numerous container plants, and a meadow garden are among the gardens surrounding my Richmond, Vermont, home. The garden is the only place I would rather be. Check out this Garden Gate magazine video interview from January 2021 if you’re interested in learning more.
The joy of growing clematis should be known to every flower gardener. If you have one in your garden already, you’re definitely planning how to fit in another! Clematis new to you? Learn how simple it is to succeed with the “queen of climbers” by reading on.
Selecting a Plant
Only a few number of clematis cultivars were widely accessible in the United States up until very recently. These time-tested classics are Comtesse de Bouchard, General Sikorski, Jackmanii, and Henryi. However, clematis have grown to be a very popular perennial, and the typical neighborhood garden center now offers dozens of various options.
Considerations to keep in mind while choosing a clematis for your garden are its mature height, blossom form, and color.
There are several great kinds of clematis that will work if you have space for a robust 10- or 20-foot clematis vine. Additionally, there are smaller types that thrive in pots on patios or even in small gardens.
The typical clematis flower is a big, five to six-inch-wide blossom with six or seven petals. Additionally, there are cultivars with exquisite bell-shaped flowers, double blossoms, and smaller blossoms. They come in a variety of hues, including white, wine red, lavender, deep purple, and even a few shades of yellow.
A clematis vine may need several years to grow and start producing abundant flowers. It’s advisable to buy a plant that is at least two years old in order to reduce the wait and increase your chances of success. Find a plant that has been cultivated in a quart- or gallon-sized pot. Choose a strong plant with aggressive growth when purchasing your clematis from a garden center or nursery rather than a weak plant with an attractive appearance.
Companion plants help keep the clematis’ root zone cool, like this light-purple baptisia.
Where to Plant It
Before you bring your new clematis home, I hope you have a planting spot in mind. It should be in a sunny area. Although certain clematis cultivars, including Nellie Moser and Henryii, will bloom in partial shade, they require at least six hours of sun each day to blossom to their full potential.
Clematis prefer pH-neutral to slightly alkaline soil that is wet and well-drained. If your soil has a tendency to be acidic, you should occasionally add some limestone or wood ash to make it more alkaline. Dig a suitable hole for your new clematis and fill it with compost and organic fertilizer granules.
Be very cautious when relocating the plant because the clematis’ roots, crown, and developing vines are fragile. The first set of genuine leaves should be just under the soil surface, so plant it a little deeper than it was in the pot. For the first season, water once a week to help the plant establish itself. Chances are strong that your clematis will continue to flourish if you can see it through its first year. Moisture can be retained by mulching the plant’s base, but keep the mulch away from the plant’s crown, where the vines shoot up from the ground.
The best conditions for clematis are chilly shade at the roots and warm sun on the foliage. A low-growing perennial’s foliage as well as mulching around the roots will assist maintain a cold climate in the soil.
How to Support It
Although some clematis varieties have a bushy habit, the majority of them were designed to climb. The growing end of a clematis vine, like other climbing plants, is looking for something to hold onto; if it is unsuccessful, it will cease growing. Make certain that it has something to climb on right away.
Unlike pole beans or morning glories, clematis vines do not climb by twining around an object. By encircling anything with the stems of its leaves, it climbs. Given the short length of these leaf stems, anything wider than roughly 1/2″ prevents the leaf stem from twisting. Twine, fishing line, wire, slender branches, wooden dowels, and steel rods are the simplest materials for clematis to grasp onto. Even if you already have a lovely trellis, think about adding extra twine “helper” lines or covering your trellis with a grid of trellis netting since the more grabbing chances you provide, the better.
You may need to do some “trussing” over the season to assist support the vines and keep them attached to the trellis, depending on the health of the plant and the type of trellis you have. Twine and fishing line are also suitable for this task.
A clematis will be able to climb a trellis with large crosspieces thanks to Nearly Invisible Netting.
Pruning and Care
Pruning requirements for clematis differ. You should avoid cutting some varieties to the ground in the spring since they flower on vines from the previous year. Others don’t mind being chopped to the ground every year because they flower on vines from the current year. Try this common sense strategy instead of stressing yourself out trying to remember the best pruning method for each cultivar: wait until mid-spring to remove the previous year’s growth. When you can clearly identify which vines are dead and which ones are beginning to leaf out, only then can pruning begin.
The quantity of flowers and foliage produced by a healthy clematis plant is astounding. Give your plants enough of food to maintain them strong and healthy. Add a shovelful of compost and a few handfuls of granular organic fertilizer to the area around the plant in the early spring. During the growing season, feed your plants once or twice more using a water-soluble organic fertilizer.