Growing Clematis

Planting, Growing, and Caring for Clematis Vines

Clematis

When we think of clematis, the large-flowering, star-shaped blooms come to mind. However, there are beautiful small-flowering and shrub-types that few people even know about. Learn how to get your clematis to thrive!

Some species bloom in spring and others bloom in late summer. Most clematis are hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 8.

Planting

When to Plant Clematis

  • Plant potted clematis in spring or early fall. Avoid planting in the height of summer, as the harsh sun and heat can make it difficult for the plant to get established. 

Selecting a Planting Site

  • Select a site where the plant’s roots can be shaded and cool, but its stems will be in full sun. 
  • Most clematis varieties need a site with at least six hours of full sun. 
  • Clematis grows best in loose, well-draining soil. Work plenty of compost into the soil prior to planting. 

Planting Clematis

  • Dig a planting hole that’s about twice as wide as the plant’s pot.
  • Set the plant in the hole with the crown 2 to 3 inches below the soil surface.
  • Cover the soil around the plant with mulch to keep the roots cool. 
  • Clematis vines need a trellis or other support on which to grow.

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Care

How to Care for Clematis

  • Once the plant is in the ground, don’t disturb or move it. 
  • Keep the soil moist during the first year by watering weekly during the growing season. Don’t let the soil dry out.
  • Fertilize after planting with a liquid seaweed or fish emulsion. In subsequent years, fertilize in spring with a granular organic fertilizer.  
  • In spring, add compost around the plant.
  • In spring, prune any dead wood back to above new emerging buds.  
  • On older plants, remove any stems in spring that are 4 years old or older. 

Pests/Diseases

The most serious disease is commonly called clematis wilt. It is a stem rot/leaf spot disease caused by a fungus. It mainly affects large-flowered clematis hybrids. 

Clematis is also susceptible to powdery mildew, rust, and viruses. 

Insect pests include aphids, vine weevils, slugs/snails, scale insects, spider mites, and earwigs

Recommended Varieties

Wit & Wisdom

  • The word clematis comes from the ancient Greek word for a climbing vine. 
  • Many clematis varieties are scented. The most fragrant species is the tender C. armandii.
  • Clematis belongs to the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae).

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Growing Clematis

Botanical Name Clematis spp.
Plant Type Shrubs & Vine
Sun Exposure Full Sun
Soil Type Any
Soil pH Neutral
Bloom Time Spring, Summer
Flower Color Blue, Pink, Purple, White, Yellow
Hardiness Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Special Features