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Clematis Plants and How to Grow Them Successfully

Rosie is a library media specialist. An avid reader and life-long learner, Rosie enjoys sharing her knowledge and expertise in many areas.

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The Clematis

The clematis has been around since the 1800s. Today there are more than 300 varieties of clematis. They are perennials—returning year after year—growing larger and covering more area. Easy to care for, clematis have become a favorite for many gardeners all around the world. Clematis come in a large variety of colors. They can be red, white, purple, magenta, pink, blue, lavender, cream, gold, brown, and even multi-color.

According to Paradise Garden, an online mail plant catalog:

"Beautiful, graceful, and extravagant bloomers, clematis in the garden adds impact, style, and color. As long as their roots are shaded and their faces are in the sun, clematis will climb over almost anything! (Some varieties can even reach 30'!) Their stunning flowers climb over doorways and fence rows and lend a fairy tale air to even the most basic of gardens. Perhaps that's why clematis are often called the Queen of Flowering Vines!"

An example of a healthy clematis.

An example of a healthy clematis.

How to Plant a Clematis

Planting a clematis is very easy to do. Follow the steps below to ensure a beautiful, healthy, and long-living plant:

  1. Find a space where the clematis plant can get rainfall. This should be in a sunny spot. However, the base of the plant should have some shade provided from other plants.
  2. Have a climbing structure in place. It can be a sturdy metal or wood trellis, or the plant can be placed near a post, railing, or wall. Clematis will climb on other plants or trees as well, without causing damage as their vines are delicate and light.
  3. Plant clematis close to the crown of the plant to encourage new growth, similar to how you would plant tomatoes. This means you need to plant it deeper into the soil than most plants. Remove the leaves at the base of the plant.
  4. Add bonemeal to the soil. Most gardeners suggest doing this to provide sufficient nutrients to the roots, making the plant stronger.
  5. Watering often. This is necessary, especially in the beginning, to ensure the plant will thrive.
Established clemantis, decorating the landscape.

Established clemantis, decorating the landscape.

How to Care for a Clematis

The clematis is very easy to care for and maintain. Follow the steps below for a healthy clematis plant:

  1. According to experienced gardeners, the clematis can be pruned any time of the year. However, fall is preferable since the conditions are the least stressful for the plant.
  2. The clematis does not require constant watering, however, it will not thrive if the roots are allowed to dry-out. Be sure to water on a consistent basis.
  3. Over-fertilizing can cause the leaves to fall off, so be careful and minimize the fertilizing frequency.
Clematis are commonly planted in the ground but can also be grown in a pot like the one pictured here.

Clematis are commonly planted in the ground but can also be grown in a pot like the one pictured here.

Growing Tips for the Clematis

Here are a few easy-to-follow tips for growing a clematis successfully:

  • Provide a supportive structure for the clematis to grow on.
  • Plant in loose, well-prepared garden soil.
  • Provide a thin layer of mulch around the plant but not more than an inch.
  • Position the plant so that the base of the plant is in the shade. (Plants around it will provide the shade it needs near the base.)
  • The clematis will grow best in full sun.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: I have brown spots on my clematis plant with leaves dying, can you tell me what the problem is?

Answer: Clematis wilt most likely which is a fungal disease that may kill the plant if steps are not taken. Trim the affected vines as closely to the ground as possible. Remove all of the dead vines and leaves that have fallen. The roots should be in shade or covered in a layer of mulch and the vine should have sun exposure.

Question: Where can I buy clematis plants?

Answer: Clematis are often available at Lowe's and Home Depot. I see them every year. They will be potted in a medium-sized container with a small trellis and may only have foliage.

Comments

Annie on July 20, 2019:

Will morning glory vines hurt the Clematis

Pamela Towers on June 21, 2018:

Just received two clematis plants look forward to seeing them flower.

Audrey Surma (author) from Virginia on May 27, 2018:

They are tough plants. I have had one for 15 years and it faithfully comes back even after harsh winters. Thanks for reading!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 18, 2018:

I love clematis and I used to have them in our house. Now, in our cottage, I am still waiting for new growth in my old plant. I hope it survived the tough winter.

Roger on December 14, 2015:

I put for broken clay pots around mine it also works as a toad house

Audrey Surma (author) from Virginia on July 03, 2013:

Thanks for stopping by Glimmer Twin Fan. I've been lucky with my clematis plants more than anything, as I don't always find success with a whole lot of outdoor plants. It may have more to do with the weather in our area. I know also that some varieties of clematis are much easier to grow than others. Take care.

Claudia Mitchell on July 03, 2013:

Thanks for this. With the exception of one clematis that was the type that did not die back to the ground, I never have much success with clematis and I wish I did. I have seen so many beautiful ones. I move the one I have and still no luck. Pinned so I can refer to this.

Audrey Surma (author) from Virginia on June 28, 2013:

Thanks eugbug. I have three of them and they are all in bright sunlight, planted deeply, and do have plants around them providing some shade for the roots. They do tend to look weathered after several hot days, because I do not water them as I should. However, I am always happily surprised to see them return year after year. :)

Eugene Brennan from Ireland on June 28, 2013:

I have never been successful growing clematis. Probably because where I grow them, the roots are shaded by trees and are too dry.

Useful info and voted up!

Audrey Surma (author) from Virginia on June 26, 2013:

Thanks for reading moonlake. My sister has a white clematis and it is gorgeous. Before writing this hub, I didn't realize there were so many varieties - I will be getting more. Take care!

moonlake from America on June 25, 2013:

I love Clematis. My white clematis are so pretty this year. I have more getting ready to bloom. Really enjoyed your hub and voted up.