Clematis - a growing guide

Photo of Clematis

There are an enormous range of Clematis and they have long been one of the favourite climbing plants of many gardeners.

Clematis have a wide range of flower colours including white, pink and purple and many shades inbetween and many have stripes of two different colours. Whilst most clematis have large open flowers some varieties such as Clematis montana have a large mass of small flowers and some such as the alpine clematis have small nodding bell flowers. If you are looking for scent then Clematis armandii is an excellent choice. Clematis armandii, unusually for Clematis, is also evergreen and so is a good choice if you wish to cover an unsightly shed or cover a screen.

Clematis plants often feature in cottage gardens and Clematis 'Nelly Moser' shown in the photo above is a common choice in cottage gardens. Clematis look lovely when grown through roses or other shrubs.

Clematis growing guide

Clematis will grow in most soil types and like full sun or partial shade. Most are fully hardy.

Clematis plants are not the easiest to grow but if you follow a few simple rules you should be able to enjoy these plants year after year.

Plant clematis plants deep. They are prone to clematis wilt which causes apparently health plants to suddenly wilt and collapse. By planting the clematis at least 1.5x deeper than its pot the underground stem will survive and put out new growth even if the top wilts. If your plant wilts cut back all affected  growth back to the ground. Clematis Viticella cultivars tend to be more resistant than other Clematis varieties and so are a good choice for beginners.

Clematis do not like their roots to 'bake' in the sun so either plant where the roots are shaded by neighbouring plants or cover soil with a couple of old tiles.

Clematis

Pruning varies according to group.

Group 1 clematis such as Clematis montana tend to be the small flowered clematis who flower very early in the year. These do not need pruning except to restrict growth or tidy the plant. If this is necessary prune in early spring after flowering. Feed and mulch in spring.

Group 2 clematis flower fairly early in the spring/summer and flower on stems produced the year before. These should therefore only be very lightly pruned in order to preserve the most flowers. Feed and mulch in spring.

Group 3 clematis are perhaps the easiest to care for. These flower in mid to late summer on new growth and therefore can be pruned hard back to about 20cm from the ground in early spring. Prune back to a pair of healthy buds. Because all the old growth is cut off each year these clematis are a good choice for growing through shrubs and trees as all the old untidy growth can be cleared away each spring and the supporting plant is not too smothered. Feed and mulch in spring.

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  • purple-clematis

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