If you’re looking for a plant that’s going to cover your trellis, walls, fence, lattice, or even your shed.
Clematis is the answer. Hands down.
Clematis, also known as the “Queen of Vines,” is a vining plant that loves to climb. It’s one of the plants people use to make those gorgeous displays of arching flowers over their entryway.
This plant can produce dozens of flowers, each ranging up to 5 inches in diameter!
Plus, it’s beginner friendly.
So if you’re not a green thumb, it doesn’t matter. Like most vine plants, it’ll need TLC. But nothing too crazy.
It just takes patience and some dedication to the gardening hobby.
Let’s learn how to care and care for clematis.
Last updated: 6/23/22.
Quick care guide: Clematis
|Plant type||Perennial evergreen vine plant|
|Scientific name||Clematis; L.
|Other names||Traveler's Joy, Old-Man's-Beard, Virgin's Bower, Vine Bower, Leatherflower, Vase Vine, Queen of Vines|
|Soil type||Fertile, loamy, well-draining, nutrient-dense, organic|
|Soil pH||6.5-7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral)|
|Sunlight requirement||Full sun, at least 6 hours per day|
|Bloom season||Spring, summer|
|Colors||Green, lime green, yellow, purple, blue, pink, white, red, hybrids.|
|Max height||30 feet|
|Max width||20 feet (if not grown vertically)|
|Low temperature tolerance||-40F|
|High temperature tolerance||90F|
|Ideal temperature range||65F-85F|
|Humidity||Moderate (50% or higher)|
|Watering requirements||1-2 gallons of water per week, adjust as needed|
|Fertilizer requirements||Moderate, use max dosage in spring/summer, supplement with high potash|
|Plant food NPK||10-10-10 or 4-8-4|
|Days until germination||2-3 years|
|Days until harvest||Non-harvestable|
|Bloom time||30-45 days, blooms 2-3 times per season|
|Speed of growth||Moderate|
|Hardiness zones||USDA hardiness zones 4-10|
|Plant depth||0.25-0.50 inches for seeds, plant 2-3 times the depth of the root ball.
Deciduous: The crown should be a few inches below the soil line
Evergreen: Plant root ball crown the same depth as the soil line
|Plant spacing||36 inches|
Short shrubs for shading the roots
Other edibles that prefer high potash environments
|Don't plant with||Competing vine plants|
|Propagation method||Cuttings, pre-grown|
|Common pests||Snails, beetles, slugs, whiteflies, scale, aphids, caterpillars, thrips, capsid bugs, earwigs, and leaf miners|
|Common diseases||Powdery mildew, slime flux, wilt|
|Grown in container||Yes|
|Care level||Moderate (easy for beginners)|
|Best uses||Trellises, walls, sheds, archways, decor, bordering, pathing, lattices,|
Clematis is a popular flowering plant that’s known for its ability to climb.
It’s commonly found climbing on fences, trellises, or even lattices. These plants are sure to capture the attention of people walking by.
They grow thick, dense foliage with large, flowering petals.
Clematis can be used as a decorative piece or even as a privacy plant to block off vision. They’ve only recently become widely popular in the US because they weren’t available in the US.
You could only select from a few cultivars, but they’ve become quite the craze with dozens of different strains nowadays. You can go to your local nursery and pick up one for a reasonable price.
Seeds are also plentiful- both in the garden center or online. But you may not want to hit that “order” button just yet!
Is clematis perennial or annual?
Clematis is a perennial plant that will grow year after year, provided that you supply it with the right TLC. It’s a slow-growing, flowering climber.
They’re well paired with roses or complementary plants.
There are many different shapes, colors, sizes, and even heights that you can choose from. Clematis also attracts birds, bees, and insects because of its dense foliage.
Some types are evergreen, others are deciduous.
When do they flower?
This plant varies in flowering time, but usually ranges from early spring to late fall.
ecause of their wide abundance in diversity, they can be used for a plethora of settings including containers, screens, borders, fences, or trellises.
If you want to add some color to your garden, clematis is an excellent candidate!
What do they look like?
Clematis comes in many different colors. The standard flower is a huge, large blossom with up to 7 petals that measures up to 6 inches in diameter.
The vines can grow up to 20 feet in length, which makes it a crawling, climbing plant. There are also clematis with double blossoms, small flowers, or even bell-shaped flowers. The vines are dark green with sharp leaves that match the color.
They complement the vines with sometimes lighter shades of lime.
But it’s the petals that complete the picture! These blossoms can be purple, lavender, white, red, or even yellow. There are lots of hybrids that have been introduced into the US by hobbyists over time.
So as you can see, there’s a clematis for every garden.
Whether you’re looking for a climbing plant with pretty flowers or something to offer plant cover for that ugly fence, clematis can do it.
There are both compact varieties and fuller ones that can span your garden. Do some research and find out which one is right for your situation and garden.
Is clematis easy to grow?
Clematis will take some patience to grow, but for the most part, they’re beginner-friendly. They do have some requirements that you need to follow if you want them to thrive.
Clematis also takes multiple years before it begins to flower. It starts off slowly producing a few buds, then it will flower vigorously.
This is why people buy a plant from the nursery that’s a few years old- it gives them a headstart on the flowering with reduced waiting time. But it comes at a premium.
They are quite picky about where you put their roots down. This will require your critical thinking skills. Once planted, it’s very difficult to move it around once it starts climbing. Once established, it’ll be worth your time.
There are so many types of clematis that it’s an article of itself.
To keep it simple, here are some of the most popular clematis cultivars separated by group for your reference:
Pruning Group 1:
- Clematis montana
- Clematis alpina
- Clematis macropetala
- Clematis Armandii
- Clematis alpina AGM
- Pamela Jackman
- White Abundance
- Blue Bird
- Rosy O’ Rgrady
- White Columbine
- Wisley Cream
- Frances Rivis
- Markham’s Pink
- C. baearica
- C. cirrhosa
Pruning Group 2:
- Bees Jubilee
- Nelly Moser
- Vyvyan Pennell
- Perle D’Azur
- Burma Star
- Royal Velvet
- WIlliam Kennett
- Duchess of Edinburgh
- Jackmanii Alba
- Jackmanii Rubra
- Beauty of Worcester
- Belle of Woking
- Babara Jackman
- Snow Queen
- The President
Pruning Group 3:
- Madame Julia Correvon
- Clematis terniflora
- Ernest Markham
- Clematis Jackmanii
- Clematis viticella
- Clematis texensis
- Prince Charles
- Clematis tangutica
- Hagley Hybrid
- Ville de Lyon
- Sir Trevor Lawrence
- Lady Betty Balfour
- Polish Spirit
- Royal Velours
- Duchess of Albany
- Purpurea Plena Elegans
Over 300 types of clematis exist. So there’s something for everyone. Tiny garden. Big gardens. Compact, tall, or short. Big or small flowers. You can even get different flower colors.
How to propagate clematis
This section covers the steps to propagate clematis from seed or if you bought one from the garden center. Remember that it takes time for it to start flowering, so you may want to start with a pre-grown plant if you’re impatient (like me).
So that’s why I’ll focus on the two most practical methods- starting from cuttings or just buying one. Starting from seed will take up to 3 years before you even complete germination. So if anything, it’s not for those that want to see results!
Should you start from seed?
If you’re starting from seed, you’re in it for the long haul.
Clematis germination can take upwards of 36 months to fully sprout, so it may not be worth the time you spend before you see any results. Propagate from stem cuttings or just buy one from the local garden center.
This video shows you the process from seed:
Cuttings should be taken from clematis that has been well established. Look for vines that have yet to flower with no buds. Use a sharp pair of sterilized pruners.
Take cuttings in the spring using softwood stems. If spring has already passed, you can still take cuttings in the summer using regular ripe wood.
The vines should be toughened up before you cut. If you cut it when it’s too young, it may not handle the plant shock from being cut off.
That’s why you should let it grow for a few weeks before you make your cuts. Don’t take cuttings from growing ends. They’re much too fragile for this.
Find a section with a long, hardy vine with several sets of foliage so you can propagate multiple plants from the same branch.
Make the cut right above a leg joint. This is usually around 1 inch above or so, but it depends on the type of clematis you’re growing. Cut the section cleanly right above the leaf joints right above the set of leaves.
Continue cutting sections until you reach the end of the stem. Depending on the overall length of your system, you can create many cuttings and turn them into plants of their own.
Each section should be about 3 inches with one set of leaves at the top of it.
Next, get a high-quality rooting gel or powder. Dip the cut end into the rooting hormone as directed. This helps it take root but is optional if you don’t have any.
However, I highly recommend it because clematis is finicky enough.
Prepare a container with a high-quality, nutrient-dense soil mixture.
Consider putting in some compost or high potash ingredients. Fill it with soil. Then insert the stems into it.
Firm around the stems to hold them in place. You can fit 3 stems in a single pot. Space them out evenly.
Water it well. Then make sure it drains. Cover it with a humidity dome or plant cover to help retain the humidity.
Place the container in bright, dappled light. Keep it moist by watering once or twice per week. You should expect roots to form in about 6-8 weeks. You can test this by gently tugging on it.
If it doesn’t give, then it’s rooted! Congrats. Remove the dome and let it get used to the outside by hardening it off.
When the plant starts to grow, cut the stems back to 10 inches to encourage branching.
At this point, the roots should be established and the plant can be moved outside to your garden.
Where to plant
Clematis appreciates full sun locations, but will also bloom in partial shade.
To encourage maximum flower production, you’ll want to choose somewhere that receives plenty of sunlight for at least 6 hours per day.
Morning sunlight will reduce the likelihood of scorching or burning, which can happen if too much hot sun is provided. Depending on your USDA hardiness zone, you’ll want to choose a location accordingly.
If you have extremely hot summers, partial shade may be preferable. For temperate zones, full sun is ideal.
Other than sunlight, choose somewhere in your garden that has something for it to run up on. Clematis is notorious for being able to climb, so give it fencing, a trellis, or a lattice and let it go to town!
Less vigorous types can grow on a trellis, but rampant types prefer larger surfaces instead.
Think sheds, walls, or your garden fence. If you don’t provide something for it to climb, it’ll find one.
When to plant
The ideal time for planting clematis is in the late spring or the beginning of fall.
This is because you want to avoid the summer heat due to the watering requirements.
People generally don’t water it enough because they underestimate how much it can drink. So you can plant in either spring or fall, but not winter. If you plant it in the summer, give it extra water.
Prepare the soil with well-draining, nutrient-dense soil. The planting hole should be deep, about 2 times the size of the root. Add a bucket of compost to help supplement the nutrient profile. Mix well.
Soak the root ball in water for half an hour before planting. The hole you dig should be about 18 inches wide and deep to fully fit the root ball without damaging it.
Evergreen clematis varieties are planted with the crown at the soil line. Deciduous varieties should be slightly below the soil line by about 5 inches. Lean the plant. It should be held by supporters.
Planting the crown under the soil line will encourage new stems to grow from under the soil line and provide winter predictions.
Place the root ball so that the top of it is level with the surface of the soil line. Cut off the leaves on the bottom of it. Fill with soil and firmly pat it down so it’s stable in place. If growing in a pot, place it 2-3 inches below the soil line for large flower types.
Water it thoroughly for the first day. Then water every 2 weeks for the first 90 days. This helps establish it for the summertime. Cover the soil with mulch to help insulate it. The roots should be kept cold. The leaves should be hot.
This will help prevent clematis wilt. If you don’t have much, you can use tiles, stones, or pebbles. Clematis requires one gallon of water per week but should be increased for hotter days.
Tie new clematis stems with soft plant twine. Be gentle. Don’t break stems.
The stems should be tied onto wooden supports so it doesn’t droop. The ties need to be soft because the stems are easy to rip or damage. Space each stem evenly so you can maximize coverage on the supports.
If planted in the spring or summer, you should pinch out the growing tips over the first season to help it get a fuller appearance.
It’ll strengthen it because it forces the plant to refocus its energy on growing stronger roots rather than flowers or vines.
You need to harden your clematis off before finally putting them into the garden.
If you don’t acclimate your plant before you put it outside, it may wither or suffer from the elements.
To harden it off, just put it outside for a few hours each day. That’s it!
Do this only when the roots are stronger. Younger plants may be damaged by the elements.
Moving to the garden
When finally moving your clematis to its permanent home, be very careful to not harm the roots.
The crown and vines that emerge also are fragile. Don’t use sharp tools or handle it roughly because it’s easy to break or snap something off.
Gently remove the plant from its original container by design from the outside towards the center of the plant.
You may water it to help loosen the soil. Tip the container and then dislodge it. Don’t pull on the leaves or vines- grab from the base and pull upwards to reduce damage.
Set it in its new home by gently setting it into the pre-dug hole. It’s much easier to have a helper during this step! Trust me.
Position the plant over the hole and then gently slide it into it. The hole should be slightly larger in diameter so it can fit snugly into it. The hole should be a bit deeper than the original container with a few inches on the diameter so it can be moved without rubbing on the edges.
The plant should easily fit into the new hole with its first set of true leaves just under the soil line.
Use your garden spade and fill the edges with soil. Pack firmly so it holds in place.
Water it generously so water pathways are built. If you need to mulch, add several inches of it around the base, but not touching the crown!
The vines come out of the center at the base, so don’t’ cover it with mulch or compost if you want to maximize its production.
During the first few months, your clematis may not take to the garden right away. It’s OK. They can be quite finicky.
Just give it plenty of water, and ample sunlight and keep its basic TLC needs to be taken care of.
It’ll acclimate slowly, but surely.
Clematis prefer warm sun on their blossoms and vines, but cooler temperatures at the roots. This will help encourage them to make more flowers during peak season, which is what we want!
How to grow clematis
This section covers the basics of how to grow and care for clematis.
Depending on the type of species you’re planting, your care needs may vary.
However, you can use this part of the care sheet as a general growing guide so you know what you’re in for.
If you have specific questions, please use the form at the end of this guide to post a comment.
Clematis grows well in temperate, warm zones.
It has adapted to a wide variety of growing conditions and will thrive in USDA hardiness zones 4-10. If you’re in a warmer zone, consider planting in partial shade if you have hot summers.
The foliage may scorch from overheating. If you’re in a cooler zone, you’ll need some mulch or other material to help insulate the roots from cold.
Otherwise, if you’re in the right zone, keep the bottom half cool and the top half warm.
That’s how clematis like it.
Clematis requires fertile, moist, well-draining soil that has water-retaining properties.
This will help conserve water and keep the roots moist. It doesn’t tolerate drought well, but at the same, the roots should never be wet with pooled water.
Organic material will benefit the plant because it’s a hungry feeder. Manure, compost, leaf litter, or other plant food high in potash during the summertime will help maximize growth.
The soil should be out of direct sunlight. Their roots should be shaded, but the top part with the leaves should be in direct sun.
Because of this requirement, most will grow to their max potential when planted in the garden rather than in containers. If you choose to use manure or compost in the soil, mix it well.
Loamy, loose soil with good drainage is key. Coconut coir, peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, or mulch can help keep the roots nice and cool.
Your goal should be to only let the heat shine on the foliage/vines.
Enriching the soil with a few shovels of organic material can help add in some much-needed nutrients for younger plants. Drainage can be improved by adding sand, pea gravel, or pebbles. It MUST drink well.
These plants don’t tolerate “wet feet.” Bone meal can also help establish roots when you first plant.
If the container is growing, supplement the soil with grit.
Clematis prefers slightly acidic conditions with a pH of 6.5-7.0. You can lower the pH of your soil using amendments like limestone.
Please note that pH levels won’t make or break your blooms, but having the right acidity in the soil column can help improve the growth of your plant. You can help improve your pH level by putting soil amendments into the plot.
Limestone is a natural acidic substance that can help bring your pH to a lower level (more acidic). You can find this for cheap in your local nursery, home improvement store, garden center, or online.
The plant likes to have the top ⅔ in the heat, but the bottom ⅓ in the shade. This is why it can be hard to balance the amount of light it gets during peak summer.
You can try to create some shade for roots by planting other plants like shrubs nearby, using artificial shade, or using objects to block light.
Some people even put some tiles or rocks on the soil line to insulate the root system from damage.
Clematis likes temperatures between 70-80F. But it really depends on the type of clematis. If it’s too cold, the clematis will enter dormancy if temperatures are below 45F for a week.
On the other extreme, temperatures above 90F may stunt growth or cause sulfur issues. However, clematis can tolerate dips in temperature if it’s temporary.
USDA zone 3 clematis varieties can tolerate some colder temps as low as -30F. You’ll need to supplement with mulch or other insulating materials to help keep it warm.
The plant can handle some dips in temperatures. Established clematis really will get harmed by cold temperatures so no need to worry about group 2 or 3 in zones 3-5.
Note that if you’re planting in containers, terra cotta or ceramic won’t tolerate temperatures below 32F.
Regularly watering with at least 1 gallon of water per week at the base of the plant provides enough water for it to thrive. The water will provide moisture for the plants and increase humidity.
This isn’t something to worry about. They like moisture, but not to be sitting in wet soil.
The only time you really need to worry about it is when you’re trying to germinate it. Otherwise, it shouldn’t be at the top of your priority list for plant care.
Clematis are thirsty on hot days and should be watered accordingly. Similarly, reduce watering when it rains.
These plants need plenty of water to establish themselves, so it’s imperative to monitor the water level.
Use a water meter for accuracy. Dipping your finger into the soil isn’t accurate, but it’s a quick and dirty way. If the top 2 inches feel dry, water! Don’t water the vines or leaves.
Focus on the base of the plant to avoid introducing fungus or pests. If you’re growing clematis in a container, it’s especially important to ensure the water level is OK.
Container-grown plants will need more water than garden sown plants. The water evaporates quicker so you need a moisture meter or some way to test the water saturation in the soil. This way, you know exactly when to water it.
Garden-grown clematis is more tolerable to overwatering or under watering when established.
You’ll need to supplement your plant with some plant food if you want to maximize those pretty flowers. Use a liquid or granular fertilizer in early spring as directed.
Look for NPK ratios of 10-10-10 or 4-8-4. Use a high potash fertilizer in the summer to ensure a hefty crop of blossoms.
Then do it again once or twice per month. Watch for how your plant reacts to it. You may want to start with just using a half dose at first, then monitoring for leaf changes in color.
Some organic compost or manure around the base of the plant also helps supply nutrients so it can produce more flowers for the season. Be sure to check your soil profile once in a while with a soil tester.
You may need to amend it if necessary to help replenish depleted nutrients. Check every season before the growing period or in the winter during dormancy. The soil is where your clematis is going to get most of its food.
The rest comes from the fertilizer. If you have good quality soil that is chock full of organic matter, you may not need plant food! You can make your own mix using compost or organic material when you mix the soil during planting.
Use a balanced, 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer in midsummer every month after it becomes established.
Clematis will need regular pruning to keep it shapely and tidy. If you just let it go wild, it’ll look like a jungle vine creeping on your fence, but that also looks cool.
However, it introduces bugs. It also reduces the ability of the plant to maximize its growth because it’s wasting energy on unnecessary vines or leaves.
So grab your favorite pruners (make sure they’re clean), then prune! Pruning clematis is easy. Just cut off foliage that’s turning yellow, brown, or tan.
Remove leaves with holes, jagged edges, bug eggs, or pests. Cut back vines where you DON’T want them to grow. Let the others continue to do so. Pinch out the growing tips to help encourage branching.
In the first spring after you plant, cut the vines back to help promote bushier growth, fuller-looking foliage, branching stems, and a nice dense look.
For flowering vines, you’ll want to be more careful. Some cultivars will produce flowers on vines from last season. If you cut them back, then you completely eliminate the possibility of them producing blooms this season.
Other cultivars will produce flowers on vines from this season. Some will do both. So how do you keep track of which vines to cut back or not?
Think of it this way: The vines that are spent can be cut off. They likely won’t be producing flowers this year. The ones that have buds, leave them alone and let them do their thing.
The vines that are leafing out will likely produce this season. The key is to NOT cut the vines until dormancy is over. The vines should be allowed to grow until late spring. This is when to cut. You’ll get clear indicators of the flowering vines and the non-flowering ones.
If you want to be technical about pruning clematis, there are three pruning groups you should be aware of:
Group 1 clematis
The flowers on the wooden branches will bloom once more from last season. No pruning is necessary. They’ll flower again on the same wood.
These are early blooming types such as C. montana or C. armandii. This group requires no pruning so you don’t need to do anything but keep them tidy.
Pruning should only be done after flowering and requires just a small amount. Remove dead wood to help shape the vines.
Group 2 clematis
Flowers on last season’s wood, but should be pruned in early spring. Cut off damaged or weak stems or branches to encourage new stems to produce.
Trim off stems above the strongest and tallest flower buds. Be careful when cutting back. One wrong cut and you’ll remove a whole year’s worth of flowers! Less is more.
This group will bloom in late spring on old wood with a second bloom in late summer on new growth. Some of these include the Jackmanii and the Nelly Moser.
You’ll need to selectively prune throughout the season. Remove dead wood or stems in the early spring as the new buds emerge.
But don’t over-prune. You can accidentally cut off more than you wanted to which means less flowers.
When the bloom is finished, then prune it back hard. Cut back the stems to a strong set of buds below the blossoms that have been spent. This will help encourage secondary blooms.
Group 3 clematis
Cut back early in the spring. These flowers are on the current season’s stems.
Cut back just to about 25cm from the soil line. If unpruned, the stems will flower only at the top of the plant.
Prune it back hard in the first spring to the strongest set of buds about 1 foot above the crown ideally. Group3 includes late blooming clematis such as Ville de Lyon.
Cut all the vines back to a set of buds about 16 inches above the soil line in the late winter. These cultivars won’t grow on the older set of wood so you can completely remove it.
Confused which group your clematis belongs to? Check out this resource.
Occasionally trimming your clematis keeps it tidy. Trim to remove damaged foliage or cut the buds on the growing end. Trimming isn’t the same as pruning.
Supplement your clematis soil mix with some organic compost. This can help increase the nutrient profile of your soil and offer enough food for it to thrive throughout the growing season.
Compost can be purchased or made on your own. Leaf litter can be used as a replacement if you don’t wanna buy it.
Mulching can help the roots stay warm or cool.
Think of it as an insulator that covers the soil surface so it doesn’t undergo vast swings in temperature. Apply mulch before the winter season when you anticipate dips in temperature.
Remove the mulch in the early spring so it can resume growing. Clematis will enter dormancy when temperatures are under 45F for extended periods.
Clematis will need some kind of plant support in order to climb or else it’ll topple over.
These plants can get pretty heavy at max height, so if stability isn’t provided, they’ll start to fall over.
Some clematis varieties will produce bushier growth rather than taller growth, but most will grow upwards.
They’re the king of climbing, so give it to them! Like most climbing plants, clematis is constantly looking for things to grab onto so it can keep growing.
Did you know that if you don’t provide some kind of stake or trellis for it to climb, it won’t grow? Clematis loves to climb, so without something to grasp, it stops growing completely.
Other vines will then reach out to try to find a surface to clasp onto, so make sure you provide plant supports. Trellises, fences, or lattices work perfectly.
Set your trellis or supports when you first plant your clematis. This helps keep the vines in place to prevent accidents.
Clematis can be clumsy and may need some help finding its grip. Use twine to secure the vine to the surface you want it to wrap around. This will encourage it to start wrapping its vines.
Unlike morning glory plants, clematis will wrap itself around things rather than twining itself onto objects. The leaf stems will wrap around the object like a snake.
But they’re limited to objects that are less than 0.5” in diameter. They can’t really wrap around thicker things, so you want to stick to thinner plant supports.
You can find everyday objects in the house that you can use to tie down the leaf stems or give them something to climb on:
- Thin branches
- Wooden dowels
- Steel rods
- Tomato cages
- Wooden or metal plant supports
- Plant twine
- Trellis netting
- Bird netting
Note that your plant may seem to climb onto it, but you need to make sure it did.
Sometimes, it can fall off later. You’ll need to put it back in place to train your clematis to climb. It may take a few tries, but once it wraps those leaf stems on the object, it should stick.
Never use sharp things that can cut the vines. They’re fragile.
You’ll probably do some real trussing in order to keep it in place.
Growing clematis in pots
Clematis can be grown in containers, but they must fulfill the following:
- Use a pot that’s at least 3 feet wide and 18 inches deep for staters
- Use only well-draining soil mix that’s combined with amendments to help retain moisture
- Water more often than garden-raised plants as potted clematis requires it
- Fertilize with half dosage at first
- Use a moisture meter for accuracy
- Repot when the plant outgrows its container
- Watch for roots creeping out from the holes
- Never plant more than one clematis per container
Other than these basics suggestions, caring for container grown clematis is nearly the same as garden grown.
Clematis isn’t a good choice for an indoor plant because it requires a lot of space to flourish.
The vines can easily creep upwards of 10-20 feet. Plus, it needs a lot of light in order to thrive. Planting indoors, even by a sunny window, will hinder the available light for photosynthesis. This will stunt the growth of the plant.
The only time you should be keeping your clematis indoors is if you’re container planting. Take it inside during the winter or extremely hot days. Otherwise, clematis should be left outside where it’ll thrive.
Winterize with a thick mulch to protect the crown from cold.
Constant cycles of cold, hot, and thawing will damage the roots. A thick layer of 5 inches of mulch can help reduce the swings in temperatures. Just like other plants, constant changes in the temp will damage the plant.
Start overwintering by snipping off spent flowers, then cut it back accordingly to the group your plant belongs to. Cover the roots with organic mulch, dry leaves, straw, or other materials to save it. The stems should be cut back to about 30cm from the soil line. Deadhead your clematis.
The right time to start overwintering is in the fall so you get the most time out of your flowers but still have time to get ready.
Winterizing in a container is even easier because you can just bring it inside for the winter. Put it in your garage to keep it warm and give it reduced watering and stop fertilizing completely.
Established plants should tolerate the cold easily. Plants under 3 years will need some care.
If you’re in the right hardiness zone, you should be able to winterize it with no difficulty.
If you plan to leave it outside, you need to make sure the container you’re using is safe for the winter. Only use planters that are made of durable materials like:
Don’t use terra cotta, stoneware, or ceramic pots. They can crack.
There are many types of plants that can be planted with clematis.
Because of its versatile nature, you can let your imagination go wild as you think of all the possible combinations that complement clematis.
Clematis pairs well with a bunch of plants, including:
- Morning glories
- Short shrubs for shading the roots
- Shrubby vines
- Other edibles that prefer high potash environments
Roses and clematis are often both good climbers that you can pair. They can share the same lattice or trellis arch together. Pergolas, walls, or porches are all excellent locations to plant.
These two climbers will compete for space, so you need to make sure you provide it.
Both like the sun and have lush floral displays.
Don’t plant with
Some plants aren’t a good fit for clematis. This includes plants that may cover the vines as it competes for climbing space.
Climbing roses can be destructive if it overwhelms the clematis, but it can also be a good companion.
Otherwise, don’t cramp your clematis too close together. Also, don’t plant plants that have a very different soil profile, such as alkaline plants or sun-hating plants.
Clematis seeds can be saved for next season.
Each seed head has several seeds inside it. The seed itself has a seed pod (achene) with a tail. When the seed head is first sprouting, it’s smooth and shiny.
Then they become ripe over time. The seed pods turn green then the tails become feathery. In nature, winds will disperse the seeds.
When they turn brown, they can be harvested. If unfertilized, the tails will become fluffy. The ripe seeds can be planted. Plant them in a sterilized seed starter, covered with 0.10” soil, then spritz it.
But note that plants that sprout from these tails may have different flowers from the original plant. And it can take quite some time to germinate.
Clematis is hardy to most pests and is a tough cookie when established.
Because of its robust nature, it can tolerate insects to some degree. But there are a few you should watch out for:
Slugs will climb on the roots since they’re so easily accessible. As you know, slugs and snails don’t like the sun. Therefore, they can easily get to the root and then feed on new shoots.
Use diatomaceous earth or slug killer to get rid of them. Keep vines upright on supports to prevent further damage.
Other insects include whiteflies, scale, aphids, caterpillars, thrips, capsid bugs, earwigs, and leaf miners. These can be controlled with insecticides.
Other pests include rabbits, chipmunks, and other wildlife. They nibble on the young new shoots. Use a physical barrier to help deter them in the spring.
Some common pathogens include powdery mildew, which can produce a fungal infection. Damage shoots or yellowing leaves are common signs. It can be handled using sulfur-based fungicides.
Clematis slime flux looks like a white goo from the stems. It can be pruned back to remove it. Cut the shoots that ooze and new shoots should be OK.
Clematis will make your leaves burn black before dropping off. Cut infected stems back. Keep the roots cool. Never overwater. Mildew, wilt, and slime flux are all moisture rich pathogens. Nonflowering plants are usually caused by temperature issues.
There are no limits to the possibilities you can achieve with clematis. With over 300 variants, there’s a suitable cultivar for everyone.
For instance, if you’re growing smaller clematis, you can use them in pots, planters, garden beds, pathing, borders, or windowsills. They can also climb your fence or porch. Decorations, containers, or even to theme it up. It’s really up to you and how you want to theme your garden. Do what you want. There’s no defined purpose for these plants.
Whether you’re trying to hide a shed or add some flowers to fencing, you can do it with clematis.
For larger clematis, you can use them for their infamous purpose- to climb your fence or lattices. Sheds, outhouses, or even your garden trellises. They’re all prime real estate for clematis.
Go ahead. Get crazy.
Clematis is the one versatile plant that’ll cover up your voids or ugly eyesores in your garden.
Commonly asked questions about clematis care
Here are some QA that you may find handy. These questions are asked by readers and you may have the same question, so it can help you out!
If you have a question of your own, post it using the form at the end of this page. Try it!
Is clematis better in pots or ground?
Like most garden plants, clematis will have more success when planted in the garden bed. The soil naturally drains more efficiently compared to container-grown plants. It also provides ample space for the roots to grow.
Plus, you never need to upgrade the container when it outgrows. However, container planting does offer some benefits like being able to move it around to get maximum exposure to water, light, or shade.
Can you plant two clematises together?
You can plant multiple clematises together and have them climb your walls together. Just be sure that they need the same type of soil and sunlight requirements.
Planting similar vines around 3 feet apart is going to keep them easier to raise.
This allows room for their roots to expand without competing with the other clematis.
How do I keep my clematis blooming?
Keep it blooming by giving it exactly what it wants- a half-day of full sun, plenty of potash-rich fertilizer, and 1 gallon of water per week.
Find out what group your clematis is in and then cut it back accordingly so you don’t accidentally remove potential blooms.
Check to make sure that you’re turning regularly as needed because the vines must be tamed in order for them to properly bloom.
If not, you’ll get some ratty, leggy plants that are just all vine and no flowers. This isn’t what people want!
Are coffee grounds good for clematis?
Coffee grounds are excellent for plants, not exclusive to clematis. Coffee raises the acidity of the soil and acts as a fertilizer, so it can help encourage more blooms in your clematis.
Put those used coffee grounds to use! Use it during peak growing season in the springtime to maximize your blooms. Organic coffee grounds can be purchased for cheap in bulk.
How do you train a clematis to climb?
Clematis will need some help to start getting its grasp. Utilize twist ties, velcro, or twine to secure it onto the surface you want it to climb on.
It must be soft or else you risk damaging the vines. Clematis may come loose but just secure it again. The plant will slowly grasp it.
It wraps its leaf vines on the surface and trains itself. Whether you’re trellising it or letting it freestyle, this is a good plant for vertical growth. Clematis is an excellent plant for this purpose!
How do I make my clematis bushier?
You can make your clematis fuller and bushier by pruning it often.
When the growth buds show up on the ends of the vines, snip them off to help the plant redirect its energy onto strengthening the vines or growing more leaves.
If you keep your plant compact and shorter, it tends to grow out to be denser with more leaves. This is perfect for those that want to get that bushy look.
Clematis is extremely versatile, so you can shape it to your liking.
How far away from a wall should I plant clematis?
Plant your clematis about 3 feet away from walls or surfaces. This gives the plant’s root system plenty of space to extend while having a solid surface to climb. Don’t be afraid if the vines will reach the wall or not- they can grow in excess of 20 feet.
How long does it take for clematis to establish?
Clematis will generally take up to 3 years to fully establish itself.
When you first give it time to grow, you can expect it to take some time to fully establish itself. It has a complex root system that will establish slowly.
But when it’s done, it’ll be much more tolerant to temperature dips.
Should clematis be planted deep?
- Clematis – Home & Garden Information Center – HGIC
- Clematis “Queen of the Vines” – Penn State Extension
- The versatile clematis vine – The University of Vermont
Grow clematis and watch it go!
Now that you know the basics of how to grow and care for clematis, you can confidently get this vertical plant into your garden.
Cover up those voids or that ugly fence. Let it go crazy on your trellis or lattice. Build an archway to walk under.
Whatever you wanna do that involves some degree of plant climbing, this is it. Start with a pregrown one and take it from there.
If you have any questions, please let me know!
What do you think?
What’s your experience with clematis? Let other readers know using the form below. If you found this care sheet helpful, I’d like to know your feedback.
I took interest into microflora and microgreens before it became mainstream. The idea of growing an entire ecosystem on a tiny scale simply was astounding. That’s where I discovered that I actually like raising plants and wasn’t as much of a black thumb as I thought. Now, I’m relaying what I’ve learned to others who are getting into the hobby in a way that anyone can understand.