Clematis vines, what's not to love about them!
Big, beautiful, in your face flowers! And lots of them!
Some people think clematis are hard to grow or just downright finicky, but that is not true at all.
You just need to remember a few things about clematis and you too can grow these lovely vines.
BTW, the clematis in these photos are from my Jackmanii Clematis which is 4 years old. Your freshly planted clematis will not look like this. Do not worry though because time is all you need.
And these tips . . . you need these tips!
5 Simple Tips For Growing Clematis
When To Plant Clematis
The best time of year to plant clematis is in spring or fall, with spring being the best time since your vine will have ample time to establish itself before winter weather sets in.
You can plant in the dead of summer, but you need to make sure the plants are very, very well watered and tended to at that point. Honestly, right now is not an ideal time, but it can be done!
Clematis prefer to grow in full sun with a bare minimum of 6 hours direct sun each day. And the more the merrier, they really cannot get too much sunlight.
There are some varieties that can "survive" in less sun (those would be air quotes if we were sitting here having coffee together), but surviving and thriving are two different things.
Less sun generally means less blooms and you do not want to limit blooms on these babies.
It's All About The Roots
Clematis like their roots to be cool and shaded. I try to plant my clematis among other flowers so the top of the vine gets plenty of full sun yet the roots will be shaded by the other plants' foliage.
If you are planting your clematis all by itself, not surrounded by other plants, you should mulch the roots VERY well (at least 3-5 inches deep). Try to keep the mulch a few inches away from the actual base of the vine so as to not encourage root rot.
How To Plant
Clematis prefer moist and well drained soil.
When planting you want to dig a fairly large hole at least 12 inches wide and 2 foot deep, amending the soil with compost. You want the planting area to be loose and fluffy so the roots can roam freely.
I should also note that clematis roots and the vine itself are somewhat fragile, so be very gentle when removing it from the nursery pot so as not to snap off portions of the plant.
You want to plant your vine deep, so the first set of leaves is just below soil level, which will allow for good root growth. And then fill in your hole with the amended soil and water in the plant very well.
Make sure your vines are watered well during the first year. At least one gallon water per week and up to 4 gallons per week during the hottest part of the summer. DO NOT let the vines dry out during summer hot spells.
Support Your Local Clematis
Now that you have your clematis planted in its new home, you need something for it to climb on as they can get quite tall (some varieties can grow as tall as 20 foot high). You can grow them on a trellis, arbor, pergola, fence or even simple twine.
Just give them something to attach to and they will be happy.
Oh Wait, There's A Sixth One
I think I'll add another one to my list, which is Patience.
The first year your plant will just be establishing itself in its new home. It's just putting some energy into getting a good root system going and recovering from being transplanted. It needs its time.
The second year you should see more blooms and by the third year it should be flourishing.
And I'll end by saying, I prefer to purchase a clematis in a gallon sized container from the nursery. I think it gives them the best chance of success and may just possibly shorten the wait time for blooms.
The gallon sized plants are normally 2 years old to begin with and more established than the spindly ones in the teeny tiny containers.
Neither one is going to be going gang busters the 1st year, but the gallon ones seem to do better their 2nd year in your garden.
And there you have it. Follow a few simple tips and your clematis should be THRIVING!
New For Spring 2021:
Check out the web story version of this article HERE.
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Wow they are gorgeous! Do they survive -20 F in winter? Midwest, representing 😊
Most of them grow in zones 4-8, which covers down to -30ish, so you should be fine. You can check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to see what zone # you are in based on your zip code. I'm in Ohio, zone 6A which gets down to -10 according to the map, although we always have a few days each winter that get colder (I think the map uses an average).
Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces
So beautiful, Pam! Pinning this so I can try growing this in my new garden plantings! Thank you!
What about when clematis starts flowering? Do you deadhead? Do you cut the plant back in fall? No mention of that either. That's part of growing too.
Well, if I cover absolutely everything in the world about growing clematis I would have a book wouldn't I, lol.
Deadheading and pruning back really all depends on the variety you have. In general, you do not have to deadhead, I do not. But if you have one of the varieties that only bloom in the spring and early summer you can deadhead if you want to try to get them to bloom for a second time in the fall.
As far a cutting back in the fall, it's best to google the exact variety you have and find the requirements for pruning that variety as cutting back in the fall totally depends on which variety you plant. Basically if your plant send up new shoots in the spring and that is where the blooms come from then you can cut them back in the fall because new shoots will emerge again next year. If your plant blooms on the vines from the previous year, then you do not want to cut those down in the fall. You can tidy those vines up though for shape if you want, just don't cut them down significantly or it will drastically reduce your flowers next year. But really, I would google the variety to be sure.
I have two thriving clematis vines and planted them from the hardware store knowing little about them! It never occurred to me to deadhead or prune, so I never have. No one does! They kind of die back to the ground in winter and come back and grow to 6 feet every spring! I guess that's why I like them.
This reminded me that I would like to have a red clematis by my front door, so I will research the colors a little bit now!
I am so glad to see your article regarding clematis care, and the beautiful pictures of your Jackmanii vine! It looks very much like my own Jackmanii, which was one of the first plants I put in to my garden 28 years ago! This baby is HUGE!! I have actually divided this plant a number of times over the years, and all of the divisions have thrived as well!! I am wondering if you know how to clean up the base of the vine, which has become very large and tangled over time, and is never noticed by any but myself, but I wonder if I should be doing anything for it?? The vine is growing next to a shrub that shades, and hides these big branches, top of vine is in a very sunny and warm western exposure! Any ideas or advice you provide will be greatly appreciated!! By both me and the vine!!!
I haven't tried any clematis yet, but I think I will plant a couple next fall and see how they like our Texas soil... My yard has a strange combination of sand and clay, so I have been digging as far down as I can and amending but also planting rocks in the bottom of each plant's holes. We are having good rains this year, even now in mid-June, so I'm breaking my usual spring/fall planting rule. 😉
Enjoy your clematis ~ it is beautiful!
Very interesting. I have two clematis plants. Frankly I don't give them much love although I love their flowers. They are beautiful I look forward to see them every year.
Thank you for all the details and tips. I need ll the help I can get. I haven't ever grown Clematis, so I am excited to try.
Your garden is lovely all year long.
My poor clematis were looking pretty good starting out this year, I just planted them last year mid summer and they were barely alive. I got em really cheap as they weren't taken proper care of. Well wouldn't you know we got a terrible hail storm a couple weeks ago here in south western Nebraska with golf ball sized hail. They're finally starting to pull out of it but they were beat half to death. Reacon it's gonna take an extra year to get blooms if the hail doesn't get em again. Hopefully next year. Does size matter when it comes to blooming or just age. They're 12-18" tall, but pretty beat up and I guess 2 years old if they were a year old when I got them.
Do you think clematis would grow in a barrel? The place I'd like to put it is on a south-facing wall, but unfortunately that's near where all the utility lines are, so digging a deep enough hole there is out. I'd set a trellis behind it against the house so it'd have something to climb against.
Yes, you can definitely plant them in containers. Go for it!
Not exactly sure how I found your site, but I am thrilled to have found you! I am in the same garden zone as you, like to garden and I like old stuff too. We live in the same general area. I maybe get more carried away with the gardening and less with the vintage than you. But I love a good garden store and a good thrift store too. Feel free to name any of your local sources ha ha. AND you like plumbago and blue lobelia. I might now be your biggest fan lol.
Great Tips - I love my clematis!
Georgiann N Cain
Should you cut them back in the fall?
I have a "summer love" clematis and cut mine down to 12" in the spring.
Can Clematis grow as well in a pot? I really don't want to plant on or near my fence since one day I have to replace the fence and end up tearing the plant out. Your Clematis is so beautiful and vibrant, it is as close to Heaven's vibrancy.
Thank you for the helpful tips.
Yes, you can grow them in pots. I've found they don't grow quite as large, but yes they do not mind being in pots.
I moved my clemitis and all the leaves fell off and dried up. It said to hard prune. Should i leave it in the ground and next April cut it back and hope it sprouts leaves? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks. I hope it comes back next year.
I’ve had climatis for many years and every Spring I cut them down to about a foot from the ground and they always grow back with many flowers
I have a new climatis and don’t what variety it is . I don’t know to prune in spring or fall. It is pale blue with darker blue strip in the pedals
Mine has been planted for 3 years. Beautiful leaves and very plentiful, but not one flower has bloomed.