Dividing Clematis

Dividing Clematis

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Big unearthly blooms, unique color and form, and elegant climbing tendrils, Clematis have captured our hearts with their stunning beauty since they became garden standards in 1862!

Relatively easy to grow and very low-maintenance, Clematis root division is an important component for maintaining these incredible, long-lived plants! Read on to find out more about the upkeep of these gorgeous flowering climbing Vines!

Wonderful Clematis

Clematis got its name from the Greek word “klematis”, simply meaning vine. This genus of flowering plants native to China and Japan is actually in the Ranunculus family! Vigorously growingpretty purple clematis woody deciduous vines (some are even evergreen!), the vivid blossoms come in a dizzying array of colors, shapes, forms, and sizes. A few even have some fragrance! 

Clematis adds vertical color to your garden, or they can even be a sprawling, cascading groundcover. Pot smaller vines up, or let larger ones completely cover fences and hide eyesores. Given the name Old Man’s Beard due to the long fluffy seed heads that look like an old man’s beard, Clematis are also sometimes known as Leather Flowers.

Not only are the blooms perfect in floral arrangements, and the puffy seed heads fantastic visual interest in dried bouquets, but the vines are great for making wreaths! Pollinators, like bees and butterflies, and hummingbirds, enjoy these blooms as much as we do.

Their ease-of-care and brilliant blooms look great even in shady areas! Growing a Clematis vine is a fun and easy activity for any gardener. Plus, adding these gorgeous blossoms is a fast way to dress up any place in the garden without taking up much space! For more on the care of these fantastic plants, check out our Clematis #ProPlantTips for care and training!


When Can You Divide Clematis?

Dividing Clematis is one form of propagation of the plant that helps maintain its vigorous growth and prevents these plants from becoming crowded. Clematis division consists of taking one plant that has grown well and dividing it at the roots into two or more plants. These plants can then be transplanted to different areas of the garden to spread beauty elsewhere (or gifted to a neighbor, friend or family!).

Clematis are best transplanted and divided in early spring, just before new growth begins to appear, but after the plant emerges from dormancy. If you miss the opportunity in spring, you can also divide in fall after the plant becomes dormant. You can ideally divide any time throughout the growing season, as well as long as you are able to baby them along through the summer's heat with consistent moisture maintenance, attention, and care. 

When dividing Clematis plants, it is important to know what species the Clematis is. Different Clematis will bloom at different times, and thus pruning and dividing your Clematis will vary depending on the type you have. 

There are 3 Groups of Clematis and which type you have can affect when it is best to prune, divide, and/or transplant your Clematis roots.

Group 1: Blooms on Old Wood

For Clematis that bloom on the old wood, do not prune until they are done flowering. Then you can reduce the size, and remove the oldest thickest stems but only right after they bloom. Fall may be better for Group 1 Clematis because by pruning off the stems to divide them, you remove that year's flowers.

Group 2: Blooms on New and Old Wood

Clematis pruning of the second group, consisting of varieties that bloom on both the current and previous year's growth. Begin in early spring with light pruning. When pruning, keep variations in stem length to produce a better-balanced plant. Any weak or dead wood should be removed at this time as well. Spring division of Group 2 Clematis also allows for you to still enjoy flowers that year, but you will miss out on the first flush of blooms that would have flowered on that old wood if you have to cut too much of the tops off when transplanting.

Group 3: Blooms on New Wood

Clematis are later bloomers, the flowers form on new growth (that current growing season) and can be cut down to 12-18" in late winter or early spring and the new growth develops from the stems you leave. This results in blooms near the base and flowers sporadically up the height of the entire plant. Dividing Group 3 Clematis in spring is best because you won’t miss out on any blooms that same year.

How to Divide Clematis

Now that you know which type of Clematis you have, you can prune back the top growth, leaving at least three to four good buds per stem. This way you don’t have a huge tangle of vines attached to whatever structure you have them growing on.

  1. Clean mulch, excess soil, and leaf litter away from the base of the plant. purple clematis bush
  2. Prune back vines and gently tie up the remaining stems to make them easier to work with.
  3. With a sharp, clean spade, dig around the entire base of the plant straight down and about 1-2 feet away from the clump of stems. Being careful not to damage the roots.
  4. Using a garden fork, gently lift the entire plant all around a little at a time until it is free.
  5. Gently tease away excess soil from the root system by hand or with a hose for a clear view of your crown and rootball.
  6. With a sharp spade or knife, carefully cut your rootball into 2-3 even pieces. Each section should have an even amount of roots.
  7. Get the new divisions into a protected cover or pot of moistened soil, or back into the ground as soon as possible to prevent drying out.
  8. Add NatureHills.com Root Booster for root formation and lifelong symbiotic beneficial fungal support.
  9. Plant your new crowns so they are situated just slightly below the soil level. Not too deep, not too shallow. 
  10. Backfill and tamp down firmly.
  11. Water in very well and continue to water regularly using the finger-test method for the remainder of that growing season.
  12. Cover the root system with a 3-4 inch thick layer of arborist mulch chips.

Another option is to leave your plant in place and simply dig around one side of the root ball. This way, instead of digging up the entire plant, you can carefully excavate a smaller portion ofgarden fork in the soil the existing plant (only removing an accessible portion of the clump), and leave the main part of the plant in place. This will insure the main part of the undisturbed plant will continue to flower and grow unaffected. Replace enough topsoil or compost into the void and tamp down, then water well and replace the mulch. Move the divided portion to a new location that is well drained, and water very well - making sure to plant only as deep as the original plant is growing as noted above.

Remember that proper site selection will make or break your success! Because the roots are susceptible to rot if not properly situated and in well-drained soil. Plant in a location where water can drain away fast and not in pool for long periods of time, with good access to air circulation and enough sun to support that variety of Flowering Clematis Vine. Morning sun is best to dry leaves of dew.

Double Your Garden Beauty With Division!

Gain more plants for your garden while increasing the vigor of your current garden gems by dividing every 3-5 years! But that means enjoyingpink clematis on a trellis doubling - or even tripling - your vertical flowering accents for your garden for free!

Get a bigger and better garden by dividing your plants regularly! Then check out all the new offerings Nature Hills has to offer you to complete your landscape today!

Questions? Head over to our #ProPlantTips Garden Blog for more planting advice and ideas, or contact our knowledgeable customer service department for more information any time!

Happy Planting!

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