This clematis care guide includes tips for best growing conditions and how to figure out what type of vine you have. Once you know which type you have, you will know when (or if) to prune it, general maintenance, and how to get lots of flowers.
If you would like to create free vines from the ones you have, also see How to Grow Clematis from Cuttings. For more, see all my plant suggestions for a cottage-style garden, and have a look around my garden here.
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The Blooming Time is Key
Clematis care does not have to be complicated. This simple chart is intended to assist the new gardener who has a clematis and doesn’t know what type it is or what care it needs. With a few quick steps you can figure out which group (1,2, or 3) your clematis belongs to and understand what it needs to provide beautiful blooms, year after year.
If you would like to grow clematis from cuttings, this post shows you how.
We prune clematis for two main reasons: to assist blooming and help shape a beautiful, healthy vine. If you are new to this, don’t prune! Wait until you have an understanding of your specific clematis including when it blooms, and how you would like it to grow. There are many varieties: some grow into tall vines, some are shorter, others are ground growers. Learn what you have, what it is capable of, and then assist year-by-year with thoughtful care and pruning to get maximum beauty.
Clematis Quick Links
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If You Do Not Know the Name of Your Clematis (and therefore do not know which group it belongs to):
Assuming you haven’t got someone who can give you a quick answer—
1. Pay attention through the growing season noting when it blooms. Does it bloom in spring, early summer, or late summer?
2. Photograph the blooms.
3. Use this website to identify your clematis. You can also browse vines for sale if there’s a specific one you want.
If You Know the Name of Your Clematis (but not what group it belongs to):
1. Use this website to identify the correct group.
Once you know the group, use the chart (above) to know when and how to prune it. You may also want to Google the name of your particular plant in case there are any special exceptions.
What Your Group Number Tells You
Clematis instructions vary as much as gardeners do, but these are the ones I follow (with good results).
Group 1 Clematis
- Blooms in spring. This is the group that has the guideline: If it blooms before June—don’t prune!
- The blooms form on old wood which is why you don’t want to prune it—trimming away old wood can mean trimming away future blooms. The exception is to remove dead wood (has no leaves or blooms) when the plant is a few years old. New shoots will form and bloom the following spring.
Group 2 Clematis
- Blooms in early summer and then (sometimes) blooms again. The blooms form on both old and new wood.
- There are several possible approaches to pruning. 1) You can trim away any dead wood (has no leaves or blooms) as needed or 2) Cut the entire vine down to one-foot-tall every 2-3 years. Easy!
Group 3 Clematis
- Blooms in late summer. The blooms form on new wood only.
- This vine can be pruned back hard, after blooming, leaving 6-12″ of vine with strong buds.
Prune for Shape and Health
Again, do not do this until you know what you are doing and why. If your clematis needs pruning for future blooms, it may also be time to prune for shape and health as well. Learn about your specific cultivar and what it needs. Check a reliable plant info site (I have a list here) or find a good visual tutorial on YouTube.
- Clematis likes moist, well-drained soil in full sun or part shade. Use mulch to help retain moisture.
- Look up the details on your specific plant to understand what group it belongs to (for pruning) and how tall it may grow.
- You can grow clematis in containers or in the ground.
- Clematis needs support. Options include tall posts, chicken wire, trellis, arbour, or trees (the vine is gentle and won’t choke a tree). Make sure there is something for the tiny tendrils to grab onto.
- Love what you have? Consider propagating the plant using spring cuttings.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
- Clematis Propagation and Growing Tips | My top articles on growing clematis vine.
- How to Grow Clematis from Cuttings | If you have a clematis vine you love (or a friend does), this tip shows you how to take cuttings to create more vines.
- Gallery of Favourite Clematis Vines | Flowering vines I have known and loved.
- More Plant Suggestions for a Cottage-Style Garden | Plant ideas for flowering plants in a perennial garden.