- How to Grow Clematis in Containers in the Frozen North
- 1. Choosing the container
- Clematis in Containers
- The best clematis to grow in containers in the small garden
- The best clematis to grow in containers in the larger garden
- Further Study
- Four clematis container ideas
- Expert Raymond Evison recommends the best clematis to grow in the garden
- Clematis Container Growing: Tips For Growing Clematis In Pots
- Can You Grow Clematis in Containers?
- Clematis for Containers
- Clematis Container Growing
- Caring for Potted Clematis Plants
- How to grow Clematis in pots and containers
- How to Grow Clematis in Pots and Containers
- Best containers for growing clematis
- Support container-grown Clematis
- Maintenance of container-grown Clematis
- How to grow clematis
- How to prune clematis
- Planting clematis
- Potted clematis
- Pruning and caring for clematis
- All there is to know about clematis
- Watering clematis
- Smart tip about clematis
How to Grow Clematis in Containers in the Frozen North
Yes, you can! Even in the Frozen North, it is possible to grow clematis in containers, as long as you pay attention to a few important things. When you come right down to it, we grow Betty Corning, one of our largest clematis, in a container of sorts. And with the ever increasing number of clematis that are bred for container use, the options are nearly limitless. Follow these four steps and enjoy your container clematis!
1. Choosing the container
There are two important considerations in selecting a container for your clematis. The first is the size. “Standard” recommendations call for containers for small clematis that are a minimum of 18 inches in diameter. (Small clematis are 6 feet tall or less.) Here in the Frozen North, we think 24 inches should be the minimum. If your container is less than that, we recommend extra protection in the winter. (See “mulching”, p4.) And, of course, the larger the clematis is, the larger the container should be!
The second thing to consider is the material from which the container is made. Some materials (say, cement!) are heavier than others (like the resins). This is important if you plan to move the container once it is planted.
The material also affects the container’s ability to stand up to harsh winter weather. Ceramic or terra cotta containers will not stand freezing temperatures without breaking. These containers, and the plants they contain, need to be moved to a spot where they will stay cold during the winter (so the plants don’t try to grow) but where the soil won’t freeze and break the containers. Wooden and some resin containers WILL stand freezing temperatures and can be left where they are.
Growing clematis in containers is easy if you choose the best variety and use the right materials.
I’m often asked to recommend a climbing plant to train up the front of a house. At this stage I’m thinking of how I’m going to narrow down the choice since there are hundreds of varieties!
Then I ask how good the soil is and the reply I get is ‘there’s concrete right up to the wall’ and alarm bells start to ring! Why is it that so often every inch is concreted or paved over?
Now most climbers can cope with limited root run and so growing them in containers of some kind or other is the answer. That is, until the climbing plant gets big! Then their growth will be severely limited by how often you remember to feed and water them. The answer is to choose your plants carefully and use big containers!
Even before the advent of container grown garden plants in the 1960s Clematis were grown in pots. But some Clematis varieties are clearly much more suitable to spend their whole life in a pot than others.
Before we look at those, how about getting the container and compost right for growing clematis in containers?
Pots and Containers
I’ve already suggested that big is better and if, when you plant a new clematis into a big pot it looks a bit lonely, plant some annuals in there with it! For a year or two this will be possible but soon your clematis will need all the root run it can get and you then stop adding the annuals.
Clematis in containers prefer a pot that isn’t subjected to wild variations of temperature. That rules out thin walled plastic containers for me. But recycled oak barrels or glazed pots work well. In these the roots are kept cooler in summer but also insulated from all but the hardest frost in winter. If space for containers is limited then add volume by spreading along the wall using trough shaped containers.
Potting Composts for Growing Clematis in Containers
Soil based potting compost is best for growing clematis in containers. However John Innes No.3 compost can be improved by adding 50% by volume of a peat free compost to it. This will ‘open up’ the structure and a lead to a healthier root system.
Feeding Clematis in Containers
I like to add granular controlled release fertiliser to the compost. This gives a steady supply of nutrients over a whole growing year. For the subsequent years I just add it to the top of the container every spring. Osmocote or Westland Gro-Sure 6 Month Slow Release Plant Food is perfect.
Choosing suitable varieties
There are lots of suitable varieties. Look for those that are compact growers and flower well down the stem. Those bred by Raymond Evison on Guernsey are especially suitable. He doesn’t sell his varieties direct to consumers but instead supplies growers with young plants that they then grow on to sell through all good garden centres.
Clematis H F Young and Asao
In respect of extending the flowering season; try growing an early bloomer with one that blooms later. If that doesn’t appeal then have fun teaming different colours together so that their blooms contrast or complement one another! I’ve had the large flowered varieties ‘H F Young’ and ‘Asao’ together in an oak half barrel for years and they just keep on going with regular water and feed. There is no end to the variety options that you could use instead!
But, if you are confused by all the choice, and if you really want the best performance anyway, you need to plant those Raymond Evison varieties! Raymond has spent a lifetime breeding clematis so that they flower repeatedly and flower all the way down the stem. You won’t go wrong with any of his varieties and he has done to clematis what the late David Austin did to roses. He has looked at the old varieties and their failings, and then bred to cancel these weaknesses out.
Some Recommended Varieties
Clematis Piilu and Baby Star
So okay, from all the hundreds of varieties available I’m going to recommend a few favourites of mine but these are by no means the only clematis to grow in containers!
Avalanche – a really early small flowered white
alpina – all varieties
macropetala – all varieties
florida Alba Plena – complex passion-flower like blooms, needs warmth.
Bees Jubilee, Dr Ruppel, Nelly Moser – large pink bicolour blooms.
General Sikorski, Prince Charles, Perle D’Azur, Lasurstern – soft blue
Marie Boisselot, Edith, Duchess of Edinburgh – large whites
Niobe, Warsaw Nike, Kermesina – rich red to claret
And from Raymond Evison’s breeding –
Crystal Fountain – lilac blue double blooms
Bourbon, Rosemoor or Rebecca – red
Piccardy – violet blue
Pistachio – creamy white
Josephine – pink mauve double blooms
And finally the one that sums it all up if you get it right – Ooh La La – a lovely pink with a darker bar down the centre of each petal.
But don’t feel that you have to stick to these since there are many other first rate varieties of clematis in containers to grow!
Training to reduce height
But choice of variety isn’t the only way to keep your plant small. Really early bloomers such as Clematis alpina, macropetala and even the more compact varieties of montana can be trained around a support structure. Simply wind the long growth around the structure as they grow. Okay, so I admit that you are cheating and making it look as if those blooms are all the way up the stem but who cares if it works? The same can be said of many of the regular large flowered types but these are more inclined to flower on old and on newly grown shoots. This gives better spread of bloom.
I’ve simplified pruning of Clematis in my blog here.
Which varieties have you grown successfully in containers?
Which variety combinations of clematis in containers have worked best for you?
Clematis in Containers
Despite my Canadian avatar, I live in Texas, so I can’t speak from practical experience about growing clematises in containers in the North. It is possible, however, to grow a clematis in a pot in a hot zone, and likely not that different in my native land.
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Some factors that might make you decide to grow a clematis in a container are:
Added height in the garden bed or as a focal point.
Clematises look beautiful cascading down as well as growing upward on a support.
Keeping an “eye” on that new clematis before it may get lost in the flower bed.
Easier to change sun/shade requirements.
There are a few factors that will lead to success:
Choose varieties that match the container’s size. I like the thermal light containers, mainly because they are lighter to move and don’t break. I think they insulate against our hot summers and I can drill larger drainage holes. Aim for a size of about 18 x 18 inches. Colder climates might want 24” x 24”. If the variety is a small vine, you might plant two in the same container.
There is a huge variety of short vines, such as Bijou, Piilu, Josephine, and Dawn. Also consider non-vining varieties, such as Arabella, Durandii, Sapphire Indigo, and Inspiration. Raymond Evison is a breeder known for developing smaller vines for containers.
Check the ATP database for the color you prefer and check the height, which varies from under 3 feet to over 20!
Then bend the rules….
I grew Nelly Moser (12 feet potential) in a small container (less than 16 “wide and 15 “ high) for 10 years. She grew maybe 4 feet at the most. I recently planted Nelly in the ground. Although I never had tried it, a larger clematis can be removed from the pot and have its roots trimmed.
Good quality soil mix: Mix potting soil with lots of compost. Include expanded shale for drainage. It never hurts to add earthworm castings and green sand, and to include bone meal below (but not touching) the roots.
Keep the roots cool. As with planting in the ground, the crown should be planted about 3“ below the top of the soil in the container. You can lay the roots on a diagonal toward the trellis or shrub you want it to grow on. Mulch well. If it is going into a garden bed, some of the surrounding foliage will protect it too.
In the winter, because the vines are deciduous in my zone, I usually plant a few shallow annuals in the pot, such as violas. I do this mainly so that I will remember to water occasionally. In summer, I might put some sedum in the pot.
Have patience: Clematis are known for the sleep, creep, and leap rule. You can be ruthless and cut back the vine the first year and you will be doing the clematis a favor. It gives it a chance to put its energy into the roots. It doesn’t need the green leaves to grow. It only needs to have moisture and nutrients and to be kept cool.
Piilu in a container doesn’t get lost in spite of the big boys nearby
Growing Clematis In Containers.
Andy: I asked world famous Clematis grower and breeder and RHS Chelsea Gold Medallist Raymond Evison about growing clematis in pots and containers.
His compact large-flowered clematis are real show stealers and I know they can be grown in pots and containers, making them ideal for small gardens, courtyards and balconies and of course for bringing exotic colour to the patio.
I also know some are also good in shade. I asked Ray for his top tips and also to recommend the best varieties to grow.
Ray: Firstly, how to grow clematis in containers – my top tips:
Do not use plastic pots or containers, they heat up too much in summer and they do not provide the clematis root systems with any protection during the winter months.
Choose terracotta pots or ceramic, glazed containers, wooden half-barrels or any container that has a thick wall. The minimum size should be 18 x18 inches 45 x 45cm; the larger the better.
Clematis love plenty of water but do not like wet feet during autumn and winter. Therefore containers must have really good drainage holes. If the garden is in a heavy rainfall area then additional help is needed: the container should be raised up by placing it on two or three bricks.
Clematis in containers should grace your garden for many years to come, so never use the cheapest growing medium available; select a loam based one (John Innes Compost No.3 in the UK).
Before placing the compost in the container do place crocks or pebbles over the drainage holes in the bottom of the container; this gives additional help with drainage.
Before planting your new clematis, soak it in its pot for 20 minutes in a bucket of water. This will ensure that the rootball is totally wet. If you fail to do this it will be impossible to wet it properly after it has been planted in the container.
When I plant clematis in the soil in the garden or in a container I plant it with its rootball 2.5 inches (5cm) deeper than it was in its nursery pot.
Clematis are best when their roots are shaded; so add some additional shallow rooted plants around the root system, either perennials or seasonal bedding plants. This creates a microclimate which clematis really enjoy, it also adds extra colour and interest.
Water your clematis regularly especially during the late spring and summer months and give them additional feed by using rose or tomato fertiliser.
The best clematis to grow in containers in the small garden
These are the newly developed varieties that only grow to 3-4ft (90-120cm. They flower most freely from late spring to early fall; sometimes resting in the heat of mid-summer.
The best selections for a sunny location are the reds, deep blues, purples and whites as these do not lose their colour. The best varieties include: Fleuri, with its very deep velvety purple flowers and the deep purple- blue Chevalier; it produces single, semi-double, and fully double flowers at the same time on the same plant.
If you prefer the deep pink shades then you must consider using the delightful Sally, or this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show introduction Endellion, they may grow a little taller reaching 4-5 ft (1.2-1.5m).
For those who prefer shades of blue, the very long flowering Parisienne cannot be beaten. It seems never to stop flowering until the colder days of fall arrive.
My great favourite is the outstanding Cezanne; its blue flowers with yellow centres can manage both sun and shade
The paler colours such as the pinks, pale blues, lavender shades and the paler striped varieties are ideal for the shadier part of the garden and for using in outdoor dining areas
My recommendations are:
Ooh La La (called Cherokee in the US) with bright pink flowers that have a deeper central bar to each sepal. It just produces a mass of these fun flowers. The really super Chantilly, is a must for shade; its creamy flowers have a touch of pink; they really do brighten up any area in the garden.
The very pale, but delightful The Countess of Wessex has white flowers, but each sepal has a faint splash of pale pink to its centre, this is a great favourite of mine, I just cannot resist white flowers.
For those desiring a darker shade of pink Abilene has to be the choice, the flowers have a yellow centre which contrasts perfectly. However if a mid-blue is needed, there is none better than the stunning Diana’s Delight, each sepal fades to a paler colour as it reaches the centre of the flower.
The best clematis to grow in containers in the larger garden
These outstanding clematis only grow to about 6ft (1.8m) in height. Because of their free flowering habit they lend themselves to enhancing a patio area or deck garden where it is not possible to grow the plants directly in the garden soil.
In this selection I have chosen three single flowered varieties and three double or semi double
flowered varieties; there are many more to choose from but these are really the best for the amount of flower that they produce and for their length of flowering time.
Clematis Rebecca is a stunning red and named after my eldest daughter Rebecca, it is by far our most popular and best-selling variety, it has flowers that are at least 6″ (15cm) in diameter.
It flowers from late spring to early autumn and gives such a great amount of flower; it really is a show stopper in all senses of the word.
Clematis Ice Blue is another large flowered variety with blooms 6″ (15cm) across. It is basically white, suffused with pale blue highlights and with a yellow centre.
One of the first large flowered clematis to come into flower each year, and one of the last to be in bloom, it is great value.
It has strong flower stems, so it is a great variety to grow as a cut flower. Its foliage is also strong, which makes it a very full, bushy plant for growing in a container. To get the best blue shades from Ice Blue it is best grown in shade where its flowers will really stand out.
Clematis Kingfisher has similar large flowers and strong foliage. Its flowers are a very deep blue and have a contrasting yellow centre; it flowers from late spring to late summer.
Due to its strong flower colour it is ideal for a sunny location, as is Rebecca however both are also happy to grow in shade.
Double and semi-double clematis are the most popular clematis because of their exotic flowers.
Clematis Josephine is extremely popular and ideal for container culture. Its pom-pom flowers are a deep mauve -pink and will last up to four weeks; it flowers from late spring until early autumn and will grace any patio or deck garden.
Clematis Arctic Queen, is certainly the best double clematis in cultivation. Its creamy white flowers are fully double in late spring when they appear and as the season progresses they become semi-double, but are still most attractive in late fall.
Clematis Franziska Maria is named after my youngest daughter. It is a stunning deep blue and also fully double when it’s first flowers appear in late spring, it then produces semi-double flowers as the season progresses.
For more about Ray Evison’s clematis visit: http://raymondevisonclematis.com/
How to use Climbers & Clematis Course.
A 4 week online gardening course with Horticultural expert Pippa Bensley
Four clematis container ideas
For long-lasting container displays, clematis are hard to beat.
Plant breeders have developed a range of compact clematis cultivars that are perfect for growing in pots. With the right care, they’ll last in containers for years, before being planted out in the garden.
For the best displays and repeat flowering, it’s worth starting containers early in the year. February is perfect – the widest choice of plants is available and they’ll have plenty of time for their roots to develop.
Start by adding hardy plants such as roses, grasses and ivies now, then wait until the threat of frost has passed before planting in tender companions to boost colour.
Check out these four clematis container ideas to get you started, below.
Plant breeders have developed a range of compact clematis cultivars that are perfect for growing in pots.
Patio rose and clematis
An English rose entwined with clematis in a faded terracotta pot makes a lovely statement. The rich velvety clematis is equal to the regal tones of Rosa ‘Suffolk’. Small pots of ivy cushion the rose, while nemesia adds another tint of purple. Discover how to plant up this patio rose and clematis container.
Purple clematis and crimson rose in a patio terracotta pot
We used: 1 x Clematis ‘Burma Star’, 1 x Rosa ‘Suffolk’, 8 x variegated ivy, 2 x blue nemesia, 1 x square terracotta pot, 1 x wooden wigwam.
Clematis and grasses
This delightful pairing of blue grass and azure clematis is planted in a log basket, lined in tough plastic, to create an affordable and attractive rustic planter. Allow the clematis to climb up the poles and tumble down.
Blue clematis in a container with grey grasses
We used: 1 x Clematis ‘Fujimusume’, 3 x Koeleria vallesiana ‘Mountain Breeze’, 1 x log basket, 3 bamboo poles, grit mulch.
Nicotiana and clematis
In this fresh, clean display, the pot shows off the ornamental petals of the unusual Clematis florida ‘Alba Plena’. Just as unexpected are the little bells of Clematis ‘Blue Dwarf’, while the dwarf nicotiana adds scent and shades the base of the clematis.
White clematis in a container with lime green nicotinia
We used: 1 x Clematis ‘Blue Dwarf’, 1 x Clematis florida ‘Alba Plena’, 1 x Isotoma ‘Blue Star’, 2 x Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’, 3 x Nicotiana ‘Perfume Antique Lime’, 1 x tall plastic planter with built-in reservoir, 4 x willow pea sticks.
A black pot makes a wonderful foil for the soft pastel shades of these free-flowering clematis. The isotoma and campanula petals echo the colour and shape, while the helichrysum and calocephalus form a cloudy cushion at the base.
A purple, white and grey themed double clematis container Advertisement
We used: Clematis ‘Countess of Wessex’, Clematis ‘Cezanne’, Verbena rigida, Helichrysum ‘Goring Silver’, Calocephalus ‘Silver Sand’, Isotoma ‘Blue Star’, Campanula poscharskyana ‘Nana Alba’, black Versaille-style planter, wooden obelisk painted black.
Clematis benefit from being planted deeper than they were in the purchase pot. Plant about 5cm deeper and new shoots will be encouraged.
Expert Raymond Evison recommends the best clematis to grow in the garden
Award-winning nurseryman Raymond Evison has been growing and selling clematis since he left school at the age of 15 and over the years has introduced more than 100 new plants to our gardens. He grows clematis suitable for growing in pots and containers, and other clematis that you can train to climb inside a conservatory or along a garden wall. He grows scented clematis and clematis with colourful showy flowers. There’s plenty of choice to suit all garden sizes and styles. Not easy then to select just a few clematis as favourites but here’s what Raymond picked and how he made his choice.
Advertisement I’ve chosen clematis that will perform well in the garden, deliver plenty of flowers over a long period of time, be colourful and are easy to grow and maintain.
Our 2010 Chelsea Flower Show introduction, a plant I found as a sport on Crystal Fountain™ Evipo038(N) in 2002. An ideal plant for a container, for growing with wall-trained shrubs especially golden or silver variegated plants. Best in a south, west or east facing location. Always fully double flowered, very long flowering May – September.
An outstanding red clematis introduced in 2008 and named after my eldest daughter Rebecca. Can be grown in any location, holds its colour well in full sun, good through other wall-trained plants and also in a container.
Ice Blue (=’Evipo003)
A stunning off white, with blue tints, large 15-18cm wide flowers. Very long flowering – almost the first large-flowered clematis to come into flower and the last to finish flowering. Suitable in any location through wall- trained or free-standing shrubs or in a container.
A designer clematis which meets all the criteria a clematis plant should have for growing in a container: medium size flowers produced over a long period, repeat flowering, easy to maintain, simple pruning each spring. Will do well in a container or in the soil in the garden, ideal for a small town garden, in any aspect.
Also like Picardy an ideal plant for a container or for the smaller garden, mass flowering over a long period, May – September. Dusky blue flowers which go well with grey foliage and ideal for the mixed border and looks marvellous with purple shrubs like Berberis.
Diana’s Delight (=’Evipo026′)
A 2009 Chelsea introduction with delightful pale blue flowers, long flowering, equally as good in a container or in the garden only growing to about 120-150cm. Its flower colours blend with all pastel shades.
A 2004 introduction, a very bushy, well-furnished plant, lots of flowers, a stunning dark red to grow with roses, over archways and with other wall-trained shrubs.
A plant that when in full flower causes great acclaim, creamy white outer sepals and a stunning boss of central petaloid stamens, which contrast well with the outer sepals. Needs a sheltered position, best through evergreen wall trained shrubs, ideal for growing a container or in a conservatory
Clematis ‘Princess Diana’
Its flowers adorn the front cover of my latest book, Clematis for Small Spaces. I really love the species and small flowered clematis, but these are not so popular with the general public. This one is a great plant with an unusual miniature tulip shaped flower. It should be grown through other low growing evergreen shrubs where its charming flowers can be viewed from above.
Read full descriptions and details of how to buy these and other clematis at www.raymondevisonclematis.com. You’ll also find advise on how to grow and maintain your plants.
Clematis Container Growing: Tips For Growing Clematis In Pots
Clematis is a hardy vine that produces masses of stunning flowers in the garden with solid shades and bi-colors ranging from white or pale pastels to deep purples and reds. In most climates, Clematis blooms from spring until the first frost in autumn. But what about potted container plants? Read on to learn more.
Can You Grow Clematis in Containers?
Growing Clematis in pots is slightly more involved, as potted Clematis plants require more attention than in-ground plants. However, Clematis container growing is definitely possible, even in climates with chilly winters.
Clematis for Containers
Many varieties of Clematis are suitable for growing in containers, including the following:
- “Nelly Moser,” which produces purplish-pink blooms
- “Polish Spirit,” with violet-blue flowers
- “The President,” which displays blooms in a rich shade of red
- “Sieboldii,” a dwarf variety with creamy white flowers and purple centers
Clematis Container Growing
Clematis performs best in large pots, especially if you live in a climate with chilly winters; the extra potting soil in a larger pot provides protection for the roots. Nearly any pot with a drainage hole is fine, but a ceramic or clay pot is likely to crack in freezing weather.
Fill the container with a good quality, lightweight potting soil, then mix in a general-purpose, slow-release fertilizer according to manufacturer recommendations.
As soon as the Clematis is planted, install a trellis or other support for the vine to climb. Don’t wait until the plant is established because you may damage the roots.
Caring for Potted Clematis Plants
Clematis planted in a container requires regular irrigation because potting soil dries quickly. Check the plant every day, especially during hot, dry weather. Soak the potting mix whenever the top 1 or 2 inches (3-5 cm.) feels dry.
Fertilizer provides the nutrients Clematis needs to bloom throughout the season. Feed the plant with a general purpose, slow-release fertilizer every spring, then repeat once or twice through the growing season.
If you prefer, you can feed the plant every other week, using a water-soluble fertilizer mixed according to label directions.
Healthy Clematis plants usually don’t require protection during the winter, although some varieties are more cold hardy than others. If you live in a cold, northern climate, a layer of mulch or compost will help protect the roots. You can also provide extra protection by moving the pot into a sheltered corner or near a protected wall.
How to grow Clematis in pots and containers
How to Grow Clematis in Pots and Containers
Growing clematis in containers is not only attractive; it is sometimes essential. Terraces, patios, balconies, roof gardens are all places where deep cultivation outside a pot is impossible. There are also parts of the country where because of poor drainage or a high water table the soil is simply unsuitable. If there is one thing that clematis demand it is good drainage.
Best containers for growing clematis
Ideally the container you use should offer as much protection as possible against hot conditions. Materials that conduct heat slowly such as thick pottery, stone or wood are preferable to cheap plastic and (really) expensive lead. Light colours are better than dark. Ideally you should position the container where it is out of the worst of the sun.
Drainage is key
Most containers have plenty of drainage, but I find as a rule that the prettier the pot, the fewer holes it has. If it is a workable material, enlarge or drill more, if it is not workable, don’t use it. In a perfect world, the container you use should also be held just off the ground. If it sits flush, the drainage holes can get blocked and the plant suffers.
Container size is important as clematis have large, greedy roots. Smaller varieties will survive in a small pot, but flowering will be poor and they will be disease prone.
Give your clematis a proper home – a good sized container will be at least 15 inches (40cms) wide and 18″ (45cms) deep. These measurements are the minimum and apply to the smallest dimension. So if the pot is narrower at the base than the top, then it is the width at the base that matters.
Compost for growing clematis in containers is important. For all sorts of reasons try to stay away from peat based (i.e. composts where peat is the main constituent). Apart from being ecologically unsound, it is almost impossible to wetten once dry and it has virtually no nutrient content in its own right. Don’t use garden soil either as it will no thave the food or balance necessary and generally performs very badly in posts.
Although it is heavier and more expensive per litre than peat-based composts, there really is no substitute for John Innes No. 3. This is a soil-based compost (it only contains a small amount of peat) and so it is easy to water, has excellent drainage and contains the slow release nutrients necessary for keeping a plant that will be in it for a very long time in good condition.
Support container-grown Clematis
Supporting container grown clematis is probably a topic for a book… but whatever you use, remember that clematis climb. They carry a considerable amount of foliage and so act like a sail. If the support is not strong enough and well anchored, it will break and damage your plant.
Sticks in the container tend not to be a good idea as they wave in the breeze and cause wind rock. My container grown clematis are all Group 3 (or C). These are clematis that flower on the growth of the current year. They have the advantage that they are pruned back to 12-18″ above soil level every year in late winter. This means their supports can be replaced or repaired as necessary and the plant can be moved around to different locations. Hard to do with a Montana…
Maintenance of container-grown Clematis
Maintenance of container grown clematis involves ensuring they are well watered through the growing season. A clematis that dries out will not forgive you in a hurry (if at all).
You can feed your clematis while watering. Every fortnight, use a liquid feed (root and foliar) such as Liquid Growmore which contains equal parts of nitrogen (N) and potash (K). All fertilisers list their makeup on the label. Use one with equal parts of N and K. Start feeding as the plant breaks into growth but stop as soon as you see a flower bud. Then do not feed again until flowering has stopped.
If flowering continues into early autumn, don’t feed until the following spring. Too much feed, too late in the season encourages soft growth which will be killed by frost. And your clematis in a pot is pruned in exactly the same way and at the same time as the same variety grown in the soil.
How to grow clematis
3. How can I protect clematis from slugs?
Fresh spring growth is attractive to hungry slugs. It’s a good idea to put down slug barriers in early spring, especially around young plants.
How to prune clematis
Match your pruning to the type of clematis you have
Knowing when to prune clematis depends on the variety you have. Some clematis flower on their old wood, which must be left in place permanently, whilst others flower on new wood, so all old stems should be removed for better flowering. Pruning clematis is easy once you know which pruning group it belongs to! See the section on ‘pruning groups of clematis’ above and the accompanying product table. The pruning groups of all our clematis are also stated on each individual product page.
Pruning group 1 clematis (just needs tidying)
Clematis plants belonging to this group require little or no pruning – most winter clematis and evergreen clematis fall under this category. They produce flowers on shoots which grew the previous summer. If your clematis is growing beyond its support then it can be lightly pruned after flowering and once the risk of frost has passed in late spring.
Pruning group 2 clematis (needs light pruning)
Clematis plants in group 2 benefit from regular pruning to stimulate new shoots, which will provide late summer flowers in addition to the early summer flush. They’re best pruned once in late winter or early spring, before growth begins, and again in early summer, after the first flush of flowers has faded.
In early spring, prune out any dead, weak or damaged stems, cutting back to just above a strong pair of leaf buds. Avoid heavy pruning at this stage as you may remove the early flowers.
In early summer after the main flush of flowers has finished, lightly cut back flowered stems to just above a strong pair of buds to encourage healthy new growth. This is also the time to prune overgrown clematis plants to reduce their size. Hard pruning should be carried out in stages over several years.
Pruning group 3 clematis (needs hard pruning)
Clematis in group 3 make new growth from the base each year so can be pruned hard annually. Prune these clematis in late winter or early spring when buds show signs of growth.
Cut all the old stems to just above a pair of healthy buds 15-30cm (6-12″) above soil level. If clematis in this group are not pruned regularly, they will develop bare lower stems with a mass of flowers too high up the plant for you to enjoy!
Don’t worry too much about pruning a clematis incorrectly – you won’t kill your plant, at worst you may get reduced flowering for a year.
Now you have all the information you need to ensure a happy, healthy and showy clematis, year after year. Happy gardening!
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Site Requirements: Most clematis will grow in full sun (more than 6 hours) but prefer some afternoon shade. There are clematis, in addition, that tolerate or prefer part to full shade. They must have cool, moist roots. (Clematis paniculata, sweet autumn clematis, is the exception and does not require cool roots.) To achieve this we recommend at least 3” of stone or non-acidic mulch such as buckwheat hulls or cocoa shells around the base of the plant. It is also possible to plant groundcover annuals or perennials at the base or to plant the clematis so that it will grow through shrubs, including roses, or sturdy perennials.
Planting Instructions: Clematis like fertile, well drained soil. For backfill, mix 2/3 of the soil taken from the hole with 1/3 compost. We also recommend adding a handful of superphosphate (0-20-0) and 2 tablespoons of lime in the planting hole. They should be planted 2 or more feet apart. Plant the crown (the base of the plant at the soil level in the pot) 2-4” below the surface.
Care Guidelines: Clematis like moist, neutral to sweet soil. This usually translates to approximately 3 gallons of water once a week OR 1” of rainfall a week. Every spring, when the forsythia are in bloom, top dress the soil around the base of the vine with compost or well rotted cow manure and 1-2 tablespoons of lime. You may feed your plant with a water soluble fertilizer every other week during the growing season. If you follow these guidelines, you should have a very well established clematis in about three years.
Pruning Clematis: Bloom time determines when and how much to prune your vine. Clematis are assigned pruning groups: I, II, and III.
Group I: spring bloomers that flower on the previous year’s growth. Prune after flowering, usually no later than the end of June, so that new growth has time to set buds for next year’s flowers. Pruning is necessary only to neaten or contain growth.
Group II: late spring and September bloomers that flower on both the previous year’s and new growth. Prune in early spring only to remove dead and weak stems. (Hard pruning of a portion of old wood in early spring before flowering will encourage more flowering in September. Hard pruning of a portion of old wood after flowering will encourage more flowering the following spring.)
Group III: summer bloomers that flower mid June through September on new growth. There is no need to keep the old growth, so cut back to 12-18” tall in early spring (at the same time you top dress the soil with compost).
Clematis Wilt: Be careful transplanting new clematis. These fragile vines may be easily damaged or stressed which makes them susceptible to a disease called Clematis Wilt. It is not life threatening. The disease starts at the tips and can affect all leaves and stems, but it does not affect the root system. Cut off and destroy all the affected stems. The plant will likely come back from the roots, although it may not show any growth until the next year. Treatment with a fungicide may be appropriate.
All clematis are deer resistant. All are adaptable to coastal gardens.
Clematis is a twining climbing flower which is simply beautiful thanks to its blooming.
Key Clematis facts
Name – Clematis
Family – Ranunculaceae
Type – vine
Height – 6 to 40 feet (2 to 12 meters)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – deep and cool
Foliage – deciduous or evergreen
Flowering – March to October
The planting, pruning and caring for clematis are as many small things to do that will considerably increase the blooming.
- Read more about clematis
The planting of clematis is either done in fall or spring, as long as it doesn’t freeze, in a blend of garden soil and soil mix.
Something really important is that the base of the plant must stay in the shade. Plant other flowers around the base to cover it and keep it cool.
It the base is in direct sun, as in, if sunlight will hit the root collar, then cover it with for example an old tile or a few odd rocks.
- Plant the foot of the plant about 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) from the lattice or structure you expect it to climb along.
- Dig a hole more or less 16 inches (40 cm) in diameter.
- Lean the young seedling towards the wall or lattice that it will hang from later on.
- Backfill the hole with a blend of soil mix and garden soil. If the soil is very heavy, add in ⅓ river sand.
- Fertilize the plant right at the moment of planting with a little compost or dehydrated manure: this will allow for stronger growth.
Clematis is quite uncomplicated, and can be done in various manners like cuttings, layering or grafting.
- Prepare cuttings in summer from semi-hardened stems. Here is a description of how to prepare clematis cuttings.
- Layering is most successful in spring, here are our tips on layering clematis.
Growing clematis in a pot is child’s play, even though certain varieties like Clematis alpina are better suited to it because of their slow growth.
- Proper flower plant soil mix is required.
- The pot must have a drainage hole at the bottom and must be wide enough.
- Repotting every 2 or 3 years will be a necessity for your potted clematis to keep growing and blooming.
Pruning and caring for clematis
Always prune after the blooming, or you’ll miss out on flowers for an entire year.
The more clematis is pruned, the more it bears flowers!
- Usually it is performed at the end of winter, sometime in February before the spring vegetation goes into gear.
- Cut back stems that have born flowers during the previous year, so that they’re about 20 inches (50 cm) from the ground.
- Cut back completely dead wood and the weakest stems.
For small-flowered clematis (spring blooming), prune in summer after the flowers have wilted away, eliminating dead wood and stems that are gobbling up too much space. Also cut back older stems by ⅓.
All there is to know about clematis
Rather hardy, clematis will resist the cold and freezing down to a scale of 14°F (-10°C).
The diversity you’ll encounter when looking at available varieties will provide you with a wide range of colors and shapes, and also will let you choose between 2 distinct blooming seasons, one in spring and the other in summer.
Clematis offers a wide scope of sizes, the smallest maxing out at 8 feet (2.5 m) tall, and others climbing up to over 32 feet (10 meters).
There are also clematis that have large or small flowers, too. In the end, ’tis like having to choose from a kaleidoscope of varieties, each as appealing as the next.
Their hardiness means that clematis is suited to most climates, because if ever the branches die of frostbite, it will send off new shoots from the base almost infallibly.
Clematis are decidedly deserving of their nickname: Queen of vines.
From the list of interesting species and cultivars, note Clematis armandii, Clematis alpina and Clematis montana.
Watering is a good idea over the 2 first years, but no need to add fertilizer. Doesn’t this make it an easy plant to care for?
Also important is to water in case of dry weather because moist and cool soil is what clematis fancies most.
- In pots, water regularly, especially in summer
- Maintain moisture in the soil.
- Always protect the base of the plant with a tile or shingle or stone to keep it cool.
Smart tip about clematis
You can attach your clematis to a lattice to ensure it grows the way you hope it will as it develops!
- Find all our pages on clematis
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Pink clematis blooms by Anja under license
Single clematis flower, pink by Anja under license
Pale purple clematis by Dr. Carl Russel under license