Clematis is one of the best-loved flowering vines. With thousands of varieties, it is helpful to know which basic type you have, when or if it will need pruning, and how to provide the best growing conditions. Have a look at these best tips for growing clematis.
This is part of the Complete Clematis Care Guide with tips on planting, propagation, fertilizing, and more.
Clematis Growing Tips & Inspiration
Clematis | Genus: Clematis
Clematis Growing Guide
Woody climbing vine
• Hardiness zones 4 to 9
• Full sun 6+ hours per day
• Well-draining soil
• Pruning varies by group
• Alert: Clematis terniflora (sweet autumn clematis, sweet autumn virginsbower) is invasive in North America
1Choose What Works Where You Are
Look for varieties that thrive in your area without being wimps or thugs.
Watch out for varieties known to be invasive in your area.
If you are planting the clematis in a container, choose a variety that is hardy to at least one zone colder than yours and be prepared to properly protect it in winter.
2Choose a Sunny Location
While clematis vines can tolerate partial shade, some may not flower if they do not get adequate sun.
3Install the Trellis First
Clematis are not tough plants. When green, the stems are fragile and vulnerable to bending and breakage.
This can be a big problem if you get the plant established and then decide to add trellis.
Those tiny tendrils will have already wrapped themselves around whatever is available and the stems may be intertwined.
Do yourself a favor and start with the trellis, get the plant in the ground, and check on your baby frequently, adding twine as needed to guide its growth.
4Visit Your Clematis Daily
While some garden plants practice forgiveness, your clematis will not tolerate completely dry soil.
Check on it daily to ensure the soil is moist, and set up an automatic watering system for super hot days or times you will be away.
Watch Clematis Tips
5Know Your Soil
Instead of throwing fertilizers or other items on your soil and hoping for healthy growth, consider getting a soil test from an accredited laboratory first to understand what you have.
Find a lab that will check for a variety of macro and micro nutrient levels, pH level, and provide recommendations to amend any deficiencies or monitor any excesses.
Plants can only use what they need (they will not overeat) and only if conditions are right to take up the nutrients from the soil. Adding surplus—particularly in the form of synthetic fertilizers—doesn’t help the plants and may harm the soil and water.
Know your growing environment to make the best choices.
6Get an Eye for Fungi
One of the worst problems with clematis is clematis wilt. Caused by fungi, a healthy-looking plant can wilt down to nothing within days.
In addition to checking moisture levels daily, watching for wilt can save your plant’s life. The moment you notice it, it’s time to act.
7Know Your Type
You don’t need to know the name of your clematis, but you do need to know it’s pruning group. Of the three groups, there’s just one that needs a good haircut each year.
8Learn to Propagate
Knowing you can’t have just one clematis and they are addictive, learn how to propagate clematis cuttings so you can grow more from the ones you have.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛