When to plant clematis

Growing Clematis – Tips For Care Of Clematis

Clematis plants are among the most popular and attractive flowering vines grown in the home landscape. These plants include woody, deciduous vines as well as herbaceous and evergreen varieties. They also vary greatly among species, with different flowering forms, colors, and blooming seasons, though most bloom sometime between early spring and fall.

Growing clematis successfully depends on the type chosen; however, most plants share the same basic growing requirements. Keep reading to learn more about clematis care.

How to Grow Clematis

For proper care of clematis, clematis vines prefer sunny locations (at least six hours of sun needed for blooming) but the soil should be kept cool. An easy way to accomplish this is by planting some type of ground cover or shallow-rooted perennial plants around the clematis. A 2-inch layer of mulch can also be incorporated to keep the roots cool and moist.

Growing clematis vines must be supported in some fashion as well. The type of support system is usually dependent on the variety grown. For instance, poles are acceptable choices for smaller growing clematis

vines, which can range anywhere from 2 to 5 feet in height. Arbors may be more suitable for growing larger types, which can get 8 to 12 feet. Most varieties, however, do quite well growing along a trellis or fence.

Clematis Planting Info

Although many clematis vines are grown in containers, they can also be planted in the garden. They are usually planted in fall or early spring, depending on the region and variety.

Clematis plants need plenty of space for adequate air flow as well as a rich, well-draining planting area. You should dig the hole large enough to accommodate the plant, with most recommendations suggesting at least a two foot depth of soil amended with compost prior to planting. It may also help to cut the plant back some before planting to lessen shock as it adapts to its new environment.

Tips for Clematis Care

Once established, care of clematis vines is minimal with the exception of watering. They should be watered about an inch or so weekly, and more deeply during dry spells. Mulch should be replenished each spring.

In addition, be on the lookout for common problems affecting these plants. Clematis wilt can cause vines to suddenly collapse and die after their foliage and stems have blackened. Powdery mildew often affects plants with poor air circulation. Aphids and spider mites can be a problem as well.

Pruning Care of Clematis

Annual pruning may also be required to keep clematis plants looking their best. Pruning clematis helps plants remain both attractive and full of flowers. The type of clematis vine grown dictates when and how it should be pruned.

For example, early spring-blooming varieties should be pruned back as soon as possible following their blooming but before July, as they bud on previous season’s growth.

Large-flowering types that bloom in mid spring should be cut back to the topmost buds in late winter/early spring.

Late-blooming varieties should be pruned back about two or three feet in late winter/early spring.

  • Exposure: Part sun to sun
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 9
  • When to plant: Early spring
  • Recommended varieties: Niobe, Montana, Sweet Summer Love
  • Pests and diseases to watch out for: Japanese beetles, clematis wilt

Eddie Phan How to Plant Clematis

Clematis roots and vines are fragile and don’t recover well from rough treatment, so handle the plant gently. If your plant has a tiny trellis in its nursery pot, keep it in place and have someone help you hold it up as you remove the pot; otherwise, the trellis can flop over and damage the plant. Dig a hole double the width of the root ball, placing the plant no deeper than soil level. Add a larger trellis right away so the plant has something to grab and grow up.

How to Care for Clematis

Water as it gets established the first few years, but clematis doesn’t like it too dry or too soggy. Feed once a season in early spring after the ground thaws with a general-purpose fertilizer. As the plant matures, prune to eliminate scraggly stems. But because different varieties bloom at different times, read the label or look up your variety online for proper pruning times. In general, if a plant blooms in early spring, prune it right after that. Summer blooms mean it blooms on new wood, so prune to about 18 inches above ground in very early spring. When in doubt, wait a season and record your observances before snipping.

Can you grow clematis in a pot?

Yes, but choose a large pot and a clematis that can tolerate one zone hardier than where you live so it survives the winter. For example, choose a zone 4 plant if you live in zone 5. Also, plant it by itself in the pot because it doesn’t compete well with other plants.

How long does it take to grow a clematis?

Clematis is perennial so it comes back every year. But be patient! The first year it may appear that there’s not much going on. Your clematis needs at least two to three years to flourish because its complex root system takes time to establish.

Will a clematis climb by itself?

Yes and no. The plant climbs by wrapping its leaf stems around a structure, but it doesn’t like anything that’s more than about ½” in diameter to grab. For example, it cannot climb up a solid mailbox post or light pole. You need to give it a little help by attaching netting, fishing line, or twine to a standard trellis. The more options you give it to grab, the better it climbs.

GROWER TIP: “The classic advice for clematis is that it likes its feet in the shade and head in the sun,” says Stacey Hirvela, horticulturalist for Proven Winners Color Choice Shrubs. “Keep the root zone cooler with mulch, a neighboring plant like a day lily or juniper, or even a rock. Make sure the top of the plant gets at least six hours of sun.”

Arricca SanSone Arricca SanSone writes for CountryLiving.com, WomansDay.com, Family Circle, MarthaStewart.com, Cooking Light, Parents.com, and many others.

How to prune a clematis

Prune your clematis at the correct time each year to encourage healthy new growth.

Pruning your clematis keeps it healthy and vigorous, helps stop the plant collapsing under its own weight, and encourages flowers to bloom at a sensible height. But when and how do you go about pruning a plant notorious for its tendency to gallop away into a tangled mess?

When to prune a clematis?

Clematis fit into three pruning categories: early flowering, late flowering and large flowering. Some bloom on new growth and others on growth from the previous year. If you’re not sure which group your clematis belongs to, let it flower, take note of when it blooms and what kind of flower it produces, and prune accordingly.

Group 1: Early bloomers

Early bloomers like Clematis ‘Armandii’ should be pruned as soon as its done flowering.

Clematis that bloom during the winter and spring, flower on the previous year’s growth. Prune these varieties as soon as they’ve finished flowering.

Early flowering clematis include:

  • • Clematis ‘Armandii’
  • • Clematis ‘Napaulensis’
  • • Evergreen Clematis like Clematis urophylla ‘Winter Beauty’

Avoid cutting too much of the very old wood as this is less likely to produce the new shoots on which next year’s flowers will bloom. Also bear in mind how vigorous the plant is – the faster it grows, the more cutting back it can take. Cut back dead wood, and reduce what’s left to fit the available space, remembering that it’s the new shoots that will produce next year’s flowers.

Group 2: Large-flowering clematis

Large flowering clematis should be pruned in spring, while the plant is still dormant.

The large flowered clematis bear flowers on new shoots which grow from the previous year’s stems. Although they bloom during the late spring and summer, some cultivars also produce a second flush at the tips of the current year’s growth in late summer and autumn.

Prune your large flowering clematis during the spring, when the plant is still dormant. Remove any damaged, dead or weak stems, cutting back to a pair of healthy buds. Avoid heavy pruning at this stage as you may get less early flowers.

Large flowered clematis include:

  • • Clematis ‘Snow queen’
  • • Clematis x cartmanii ‘Avalanche’
  • • Clematis ‘Sylvia Denny’

In early summer, when the first flush of flowers has finished, you can prune the plant again. Simply cut back flowered stems to a set of strong, healthy buds or a side shoot just below the faded blooms. This encourages healthy new growth.

Now is also the time to prune overgrown plants to reduce their size, something which is best done a little at a time over a number of years.

Group 3: Late flowering clematis

Late flowering clematis like the beautiful ‘Kardynal Wyszynski’ are the easiest to prune.

Late flowering varieties and their cultivars are clematis that bloom from summer to late autumn on the current year’s stems. This group also contains the herbaceous clematis species.

Late flowering varieties include:

  • • Clematis ‘Jackmanii’
  • • Clematis ‘Ashva’
  • • Clematis ‘Kardynal Wyszynski’

Arguably the easiest to prune, cut your late-flowering clematis back to a pair of strong buds about 20cm (8”) above the ground in spring before they start into active growth.

Pruning clematis needn’t be a headache. By following these simple instructions, your plants should produce plentiful blooms for you to enjoy, without resembling a bird’s nest for the rest of the year.

You can watch our expert in-house gardener, Sue Sanderson, pruning the three different groups in this short video:

Everblooming Purple Clematis vine

1919 would definately put it in the Craftman/ venacular cottage catagory. I think the roof style is just fine and would not change it, but the soffit and facia is probably covering up the original detailing, including the remnants of brackets. The shutters do not go with the size of windows or the style of the house and I would remove them.. A whole range of colors could go well with this style house, and by 1919, the trend was going toward lighter colors (yellow, peach, lighter blues and greens) with white casing and trim/mullions painted in brick red or forest green type colors, Unfortunately , it looks like you lost the casing when the siding was put on. Darker colors could look nice on this style of house too, but they do fade faster than lighter colors. I highly recommend the book Bungalow Colors for ideas, and you can find a lot of info on the web by searching “Arts and Crafts” “Craftsman” house colors. Perhaps a medium tone would be a nice compromise–enough to contrast with the roof and the pillars. Sherwin Williams has a nice Craftman line of colors to look at, and maybe somethng a little unusual, like kind of a muted plum or chartruese or dusty blue-green tone, could look nice. Brighter color on the door isn’t totally historic, but is always helpful to add a bit of punch and individuallity. , Much beefier railings would do a great deal to improve the porch, and since it is small, wouldn’t cost as much as you might think. Mock it up in a photo first to keep the proportions right–nothing too spindely. Especially stay away from the porch deck or Victorian types–even something with chunky horixontals could work. Adding more landscaping along the fence would help, and you could even add some window boxes onto the porch itself (look for clips to hang them with) and train a flowering vine over the porch to add some cottage appeal. Hollyhocks (look best against a fence or wall) and hydrangeas were very popular, and filling in the planting on the curb with some daisies or other flowers could help. I think the pillars look fine the way they are and I wouldn’t add anything to them, but a false lintel (keep a space between it and the siding) or a narrow pergola over the front could make the porch look more solid and distinctive. You have a simple charming house and I wouldn’t add too many dodads to it or it could look totally false and out of scale. As for the concrete, once it starts to go, it will always be a maintenance problem. Be careful decking over it–you don’t want to trap moisture. It might be possible to grind off the lumpy areas, repair cracks and resurface or repaint and even stencil to camoflague things a bit for the time being. Be sure to pick products that have some give (such as a K-type mortar) and are softer than the surrounding concrete, (avoid Portland cement!) so that you don’t make the problem worse.

How to grow Clematis

Latin Name Pronunciation: klem’uh-tis

This very diverse group of lovely, ornamental vines will entice you to garden on the vertical plane. There’s a Clematis for virtually every situation: grow the shorter and non-climbing types through shrub Roses and small trees and cover an arbor or a trellis with the taller varieties. The long flowering season begins with the compact alpinas and macropetalas in early spring, progresses through early summer with the large-flowered hybrids, continues through late summer with the boisterous texensis and viticella varieties, and concludes with the exuberant and infallible Clematis paniculata that will literally cover an unsightly structure or arbor in one season.

By entering your email you will receive a link via email to download our free eBook “How to Design Your Garden.” You will also be subscribed to receive email from White Flower Farm.


  • In general, these lush vines like at least 6 hours of sun. Some varieties are adapted to partial shade and all benefit from afternoon shade in the South.
  • Clematis prefers a cool root run, so lay flat stones at its base, or plant annuals or shallow-rooted perennials around them.
  • Regular watering is desirable, especially during seasonal dry periods. Clematis is deep-rooted, so water thoroughly.

Fertilizer/Soil and pH:

  • Clematis is at its best in rich soils with good drainage. It prefers a neutral soil, so check pH and add lime if needed.
  • Dig a generous hole and amend soil as conditions indicate, avoiding fresh manures.
  • Plant the crown of your plant 3–4″ below the soil surface; this will protect dormant buds that will provide new growth if the existing stem(s) are injured.
  • Provide support immediately or plants will languish.
  • Clematis is a heavy feeder; supply a low nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-10 in spring, when the buds are about 2″ long. Alternate feedings every 4 to 6 weeks with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer. Continue this alternate feeding until the end of the growing season.


  • Clematis is susceptible to fungi that can cause the vine to suddenly wilt and turn brown or black. Carefully prune out all diseased tissue and destroy; disinfect your pruners with a bleach solution. Generally this disease is not fatal, especially if you have planted the vine correctly, as dormant buds will send up new growth from the crown.
  • Handle gently when planting and be careful when cultivating, as physical injury to the stems can cause them to wilt and die.


  • Plant these lovely vines at the base of shrubs and small trees; they will weave their way through the supporting foliage and extend the season of interest with their showy blooms.
  • Use the woody structure of Shrub Roses to support the non-clinging Clematis varieties; for instance, grow purple or blue Clematis through a yellow Shrub Rose for a fabulous contrast. Remember that a supporting woody plant will compete with the Clematis for water and nutrients and adjust your culture as necessary.


  • To promote reflowering for late season bloomers during the growing season, the vine can be cut by one-half after the main bloom period.
  • Varieties that flower on old and new wood will often throw out a few blooms at the end of the growing season.


  • Young vines may be moved with plenty of soil as long as they are watered religiously.
  • Depending on variety, cut back lightly or severely before moving in early spring.

By entering your email you will receive a link via email to download our free eBook “How to Design Your Garden.” You will also be subscribed to receive email from White Flower Farm.


  • Dead or damaged stems may be removed at any time.
  • Early in the first spring after planting, prune the stems of all Clematis varieties down to the lowest pair of healthy buds. Thereafter, prune to control size and shape or to encourage more profuse bloom.
  • Flowering tends to decline on stems that are four or more years old, so it’s a good idea to prune out very old stems periodically in early spring. This pruning helps produce more compact plants with flowers closer to eye level. Sometimes, on older vines, the flowering is confined to a small area at the tops of the stems.
  • If you wish, you can rejuvenate old plants by cutting them back severely, to about 18″. Wait until after the first flush of bloom to perform the surgery.

Clematis are divided into pruning groups as follows:

Group I plants bloom on old wood and require no pruning except to control size, in which case prune lightly after flowering back to a pair of healthy buds. Group I varieties include Clematis alpina ‘Stolwijk Gold’ and Clematis montana ‘Mayleen.’

Group II plants bloom first on old wood and then again on new; prune lightly in early spring to shape and remove weak growth and then prune after bloom if desired.

Group II varieties include:

Group III plants all flower on new growth and can be cut back to 12″ in early spring. This group is ideal for growing through shrubs as all old growth is removed annually.

Group III varieties include:

End of Season Care:

  • Plants may be mulched, but take care to keep mulch material away from the crowns and stems of the plants.
  • Check to make sure that the vines of Group I and II plants are tied securely to supports to withstand winter winds.

Calendar of Care

Early Spring:

  • Fertilize with 5-10-10 when new growth reaches two inches.
  • If you need to move a plant, transplant young vines now.
  • Wait until new growth appears before removing dead or damaged stems and before pruning as required by variety: leave Group I Clematis alone; prune Group II plants lightly to shape and remove weak growth; cut Group III varieties back to 12 inches above the ground, or higher if you desire taller vines.
  • If this is the first spring after planting, prune stems of all varieties down to the lowest pair of healthy buds to encourage strong growth and new stems.


  • Continue feeding every month, alternating 5-10-10 with 10-10-10.
  • Plant annuals at base of plants if unprotected by flat stones to allow for a cool root zone.
  • Gently tie vines to supports as they grow.

Late Spring:

  • Mulch if desired but keep material away from crowns and stems.
  • Water thoroughly if season is dry.
  • Cultivate around vines with care as physical injury will cause wilting and death of injured stems.
  • Continue to guide new growth by tying to supports as needed.
  • Lightly prune Group I Clematis immediately after flowering to shape the vines if needed.


  • Watch for signs of fungal wilt and remove and destroy affected plant parts if it occurs, then sterilize pruners with bleach solution.
  • Group II Clematis may be pruned back by one-half after main flush of bloom to encourage strong growth and new flowers.
  • Continue to water if conditions indicate.


  • Check to be certain that the vines of Group I and II varieties are tied securely to supports to withstand winter wind and snow.
  • Mulch if desired, keeping material away from the crown.
  • If the season is dry, water well and deeply.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *