Clematis, "the queen of all flowering vines," adds drama and excitement to any landscape. Clematis will tolerate most planting situations and never get out of control. Boasting grace and beauty, they're excellent for growing on the corner of a home, on a trellis, pergola, lamp post, or mailbox. Clematis flourishes in many planting situations.
Quick Reference Planting Guide
- Location: Full to partial sun.
- Hardiness: Zones 3–9.
- Planting Distance: 3'–6' apart.
- Mature Height: Up to 12' or more and half as wide within two years.
- Bloom Time: Late spring, early summer.
- To Plant: Dig a hole twice as wide and twice as deep as each plant's pot. Remove the plant from the pot and carefully place the root ball in the hole, level with the soil surface. Refill with soil mixture. Firm the soil around the plant with your fingers. Water thoroughly.
Clematis does well in average well-drained soils of all types, but for optimum results, improve your planting soil as follows:
- Spade or rototill the soil to a depth of 12".
- Mix in a 2"–4" layer of dehydrated manure, garden compost, shredded leaves, and/or peat moss. After active growth begins, periodically feed with water soluble plant booster, especially when in active growth, bloom, or while setting fruit. Remember, clematis is an excellent candidate for growing in containers or tubs. If grown in containers, be sure that it doesn't starve. Feeding plants in containers is a ‘must’.
- Watering: If you plant in pots, don't let them dry out, especially if they're not in a sheltered spot or directly planted in the open garden. Your plant requires at least 1" of rainfall, or equivalent watering, each week when in the ground.
- Mulching: Apply a 2"–4" layer of shredded bark, compost, or other organic mulch around your plants to promote moisture retention, maintain even soil temperatures, and discourage weed growth.
- Weeding: Keep the area around your plants free of weeds. Weeds compete with plants for food, water, and light. Walk around the garden periodically and pull weeds, including the roots, as soon as you see them. Mulch also assists in keeping weeds down.
- Grooming: Should I prune clematis in the early spring or after flowering? Some clematis, such as ‘Nelly Moser’ and 'Little Duckling’, flower in the late spring/early summer on the previous year's growth. Others, such as ‘Jackmani’ and ‘Ernest Markham’, start blooming in the summer on new wood. However, both groups will continue to bloom into the fall. If you prune the previous group too hard, you eliminate most or all of the early spring blooms. Instead, groom the spring group after flowering by cutting back the top 1/3–1/2 of some stems. This encourages new growth for possible summer bloom. For the summer flowering group, cut these back to within a foot of the ground in the winter or early spring. Also, clip off unsightly or dead growth throughout the season to maintain all plants in good form and shape.
- Feeding: Discontinue any feeding after September 1. Your plants want to harden off for winter dormancy.
- Winterizing: After the ground has frozen, apply a winter mulch of evergreen boughs, straws, or leaves to prevent lifting of the plant’s roots during freezing and thawing periods. As soon as the weather warms, remove any mulch from in-ground plantings. At the same time, be sure to prune off any dead wood.
- Containerized Plants: Move your containerized plants indoors into a well-lit room in zones that have freezing winter temperatures, or move them to a sheltered location, such as an unheated garage or shed. You can also move containers to the south side of a foundation and mulch for the winter. Such warm locations can increase the hardiness factor for such locations sometimes by two planting zones. You can also bury or plant either the plant itself or the entire container in the garden and mulch after the ground has frozen. As soon as the weather warms, remove any mulch from the container and bring it back out into the garden sunlight.