#ProPlantTips: How to Grow & Train Clematis

#ProPlantTips: How to Grow & Train Clematis

clematis close up purple

Gorgeous, unearthly blooms, Clematis are vining flowering perennials that become smothered in colorful unusual blossoms and are reliable vertical ornamentals!

So easy to grow, so beautiful, and so very useful in the landscape. Both deciduous and evergreen Clematis species exist, with a wide variety of bloom times! There are extremely cold hardy and some extremely heat tolerant varieties available today!

Perennial Clematis plants bloom year after year, and Clematis vines become woody with age, making them perfect for a permanent spot in your garden!

How to Train Clematis Vertically

Clematis are very good at climbing by themselves! While they don't have sticky feet or adhere to surfaces like Boston Ivy, they twine their stems around any foothold given to hang onto and climb.

You can use soft cloth strips or twist ties to help encourage them to grow where you want them to. Provide a sturdy trellis to encourage it to grow upwards, or use a half-inch or smaller means of support for them to wind around.

  • Fishing line
  • Twine
  • Wooden or metal support
  • Chicken wire
  • Lattice

Choose a strong section of growth and gently tie it to a section of your trellis or arbor. The following year, remove that tie and move it up further to the new growth to secure this where you want it to grow!

Often, Clematis vines can be trained on a trellis or trained to grow up against a structure to add privacy, covers eyesores, save space and even used as thrillers in containers and planters!

Train your ornamental flowering vine up a:

  • Mailbox or birdhouse stake
  • Column by your porch or deck supports
  • Stair or porch railings
  • Fences
  • Trellis or Arbor
  • Any small frame or support in a container - vertical thrillers
  • A gutter downspout (They'll love the extra moisture and not get into trouble)
  • The side of a building using wall anchors and wire/mesh
  • Train around either side of a window (window box!)
  • Grow Clematis and Roses or other flowering vines together

horizontal vs vertical growing pictures

How to Train Clematis Horizontally

One interesting way to use a Clematis is to allow it to grow without support or as a groundcover or allow them to sprawl over evergreen shrubs, or wind themselves through leggy shrubs - just like jewelry for your plain landscape plants!

  • Let ramble over bare or mulched ground as ground cover
  • Living mulch
  • Let cascade down over rock walls or retaining walls
  • Let meander and cover a hard to mow hillside or slope
  • Create banks of color around garden edges
  • Line pathways
  • Spillers in hanging baskets or patio pots

Clematis in the Garden and Beyond

Stand by me clematis

Bush-style Stand by Me Clematis is a fantastic upright mounding perennial that won't climb! Tuck this purple gem into planters and among other perennials to enjoy their unique blooms and structure!Not only do these lovelies attract pollinators and should be a standard addition to butterfly gardens, but they're also great in perennial gardens and cottage borders. Bird-Friendly, the thick vines are great cover and nesting, while some varieties produce fruits/seeds birds like to eat.

Shorter-growing Clematis can also be grown in containers or directly in the ground as smaller accents! white clematis

  • Add some dreamy white Clematis to your Moon garden!
  • Spruce up a shade garden with vertical or horizontal shade-tolerant vines!
  • Add to your cutting garden to snip a few stems for your floral arrangements!
  • Even the unique seed pods look great in dried décor!


Clematis Growing & Care

Clematis are relatively easy to care for when the proper conditions are given. Whenever the ground is workable, Clematis can be planted. When growing Clematis, the proper time and method of planting will make caring for the plant much easier.

  • At least six hours of sun per day is ideal
  • Mulch well - Clematis like to have cool soil
  • Provide consistent water; mature vines can use 2 gallons per day when in flower
  • Plant at least 6-12 inches away from the support so the roots have plenty of room
  • Organically enriched, well-drained soil

clematis care

The best thing to do when growing Clematis is to mulch heavily near the base of the plant. This will allow the soil to maintain moisture and also provide shade for the root system. container clematis

Container-grown Clematis can be planted all throughout the growing season. They will need the first season to establish and can be a bit slow at the start, but a bit of patience as the wait is well worth it. Bareroot Clematis should be planted in the autumn.

Don't forget the Nature Hills Root Booster for lifelong root support!

Tips for planting or transplanting:

First, install a trellis or some sort of support that your vine can climb up as it grows. Dig a hole that is twice the diameter of the root ball and only about as deep to accommodate the roots.

Spread the roots out and carefully backfill with the same soil that was excavated from the hole. Then completely saturate the soil to eliminate any air pockets and settle the soil well. Important to add 3-4 inches of mulch over the root zone to keep the soil cool and moist which is what Clematis love to perform best. clematis

Your Clematis needs regularly watered through its first summer. After the first year, your plant's roots will be well established and only need water during extended drought.

Dividing Clematis

Dividing Clematis is one form of propagation of the plant and consists of dividing it at the roots into two or more plants. When dividing Clematis plants, it is important to know what species the Clematis is.

The best time to divide Clematis is just before new growth will appear, and after the plant emerges from dormancy.

Many Clematis plants are climbers, and will be attached to a fence or other such medium, some able to achieve great heights. It is best to simply cut the plant off, leaving at least three to four good buds per stem. Once the stems have been trimmed, the jumble of roots should be divided and each plant made should have an even amount of roots.

Now, take the separate plants and transplant them into the garden wherever desired. It is best to plant the newly divided plants deeply into the soil, to give the weakened roots more protection from drought.

shop clematis

Clematis Pruning

Pruning your Clematis plant is the most important factor when considering how and when a Clematis will bloom. While pruning Clematis improperly won't kill the plant, it will likely delay the bloom. Not pruning the plant at all still results in flowers, but proper pruning will ensure you get to enjoy more and longer-lasting blooms.

bloom on old wood

All Clematis should be cut back the first early spring after planting. After this, the time and amount of pruning depend on the type of Clematis being grown.

There are 3 types of pruning that you should be aware of depending upon which type of Clematis you have:

Pruning Group 1: Bloom 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.

bloomon new and old wood

Pruning Group 2: Bloom on new and old wood

Clematis pruning of the second group, consisting of varieties that bloom on both current and previous year's growth. Begin in early spring with a 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.

Pruning Group 3: Bloom on new wood

Clematis are later bloomers, the flowers form on new growth (that current growing season) 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 have flowers sporadically up the height of the entire plant.

bloom on new wood

Now you can sit back and watch your vine climb and produce its beloved flowers!

Growing a Clematis vine is a fun and easy activity for any gardener. Plus, adding these gorgeous blossoms is an easy way to dress up any place in the garden without taking up much space!

Take a look at some of these more unusual standouts in the Clematis family -

collage of clematis

So get thinking of all the different places in your landscape that you can add Clematis! Then head over to NatureHills.com to choose the ones perfect for you!

Spring shipments will occur when planting can happen in your area, and container plants can be successfully transplanted all throughout the growing season, using Plant Sentry™ to follow all plant material regulations.

Browse our selection of Clematis for sale and place your order at Nature Hills Nursery today!

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