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How to Plant and Grow Clematis Vines

I have enjoyed gardening for at least 30 years and enjoy sharing my experience with others. Gardening is my time to meditate and unwind.

Montana Clematis,

Montana Clematis,


Clematis vines are easy to care for and grow. In this article, you will find all the information you need to be successful at growing these beauties. They offer a stunning addition to the garden and work well climbing up high decks or fences. A trellis can be used to grow them anywhere. I love mine because they bloom in early June before many of the other summer flowers.

Clematis is pronounced klem-a-tis. The plant is available in different forms and grows over much of the world. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, most varieties are deciduous vines. In other parts of the world, some clematis are evergreen.

There are many varieties available. Some have small flowers, others have large blooms, and some have doubles. The shape of the bloom also covers a large range. They are hardy in zones 3–9 in the US. Wild species are found mostly in North America and China.

The vines can grow up to 5 to 10 feet a year. Mine don't grow this quickly. It will depend on the variety that you choose. The clematis flowers are three to seven inches in diameter. The vine can be covered with the blooms, making a breathtaking display.

One of the clematis vines has grown onto our deck.

One of the clematis vines has grown onto our deck.

Where to Plant a Clematis Vine

If you are like me, you see something beautiful at the gardening center and have to have it. With a clematis, you need to know where you are going to plant it before you purchase one. Some grow as tall as 18 feet. A vine that large is going to need good support. The good news is that some are as small as five feet and don't require such a sturdy structure to grow on. You can even grow some in pots.

Make Sure You Provide Support

A trellis or a fence will work fine for a shorter growing variety. They work especially well on arbors. We have a high deck and my husband ran two rows of wire across for them to crawl up. They are now flowering on the top of the deck. I'll trim them down after they bloom.

If you have a building you'd like to grow them against, you can choose a larger growing vine. My sister grew hers up a TV tower. It covered it all the way to the top. Clematis do like to grow up trees, but remember if you do that, they will need extra water and more nutrients. The tree roots will rob them of both.

Find the Right Amount of Sun

The vines can grow in partial shade or sun, but the roots like to be cool. You should keep this in mind when choosing a spot for them. You don't need to worry too much about shading the roots until hot weather arrives. Short-growing perennials work well to shade them if planted near the roots.

Make Sure the Area Is Well-Drained

Be sure to choose a well-drained area. The vine doesn't like water sitting. If the spot you choose isn't too wet, adding sand will help provide better drainage. When planting you can use some gravel at the bottom of the hole too.

Match the Right Variety to the Right Site

If you've found a place to plant the vine, now you can choose a variety that will be at home in the spot. Most garden centers and nurseries will have several varieties to choose from.

Clematis with double blooms

Clematis with double blooms

Choosing a Variety

When purchasing a clematis, you need to read the tags. Check to be sure that it is hardy in your zone. Next, check how big the plant will grow. Is the structure you plan on using to support the vine sturdy enough? I've seen old plants growing up barns that covered a large portion of the fronts all of the way to the top. It is a stunning site to behold when they are blooming, but you wouldn't want that variety growing on a fence or arbor. It would take it right down.

Think about which colors would look best in your landscape. After considering all of these things, you'll have fun choosing your new vine.

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One of the clematis growing up our deck

One of the clematis growing up our deck

How to Plant a Clematis

  1. Plant the clematis a little deeper than it is growing in the container by about 2 inches.
  2. First, remove any leaves that will be below the surface of the soil. By doing this it will encourage the growth of more stems.
  3. If the plant is really small, bury it deep, but not as deep as you would the larger plant. You can then push good soil or compost around the plant in the autumn instead.
  4. The vine will be more likely to thrive if you place some bone meal in the hole you've dug. It will nourish the plant for a while as it breaks down.
  5. Clematis likes slightly acidic soil. Keep the vine watered well after planting.

Video: How to Plant a Clematis

Caring for Clematis

Keep the roots of the plant cool by providing other plants that will shade the plant. We planted morning glories and they reseed every year. The morning glories are just coming up when the clematis are blooming. By July when the clematis need the shade, the morning glories will shade the roots. Later we get a lovely shower of blooms from the morning glories.

If you've planted in partial shade, hostas will work well too. If you'd rather, mulching will keep the roots cool. The tops themselves can be in partial shade or full sun. These vines like to be watered regularly during dry periods. Because they have deep vines, it is good to water them deeply. Clematis do need fertilizer, which should be done in the spring. Use a 5-10-10 mixture in the spring when the buds have just appeared.

Video: Caring for Clematis

Pruning Clematis

Pruning won't kill the vine, but it will make it flower more. You'll also get a vine that is fuller. The varieties that bloom in early spring, shouldn't be pruned in the spring. The flower buds were formed in the previous year and you'll be pruning them off.

Another group is those that bloom in the late spring and early summer. In spring, prune back to the first set of live buds.

Some varieties don't bloom until late summer or early fall. These should be pruned in the early spring also. Prune so only 12 to 18 inches of the plant is left. This sounds severe, but you'll be rewarded with lots of flowers.

Other varieties bloom more than once in the spring and then again in the summer and should be pruned lightly right after flowering. These have blooms on both old and new wood.

Video: How to Prune a Clematis

Growing in Containers

Here's some tips for growing clematis in a pot:

Choosing the Right Clematis for Pots

Be sure to choose a vine that doesn't grow very tall. There are a few varieties that do stay short.

Choosing the Right Pot

You need to choose the right size of container to be successful. The very small clematis can be grown in pots as small as 18" across. The larger clematis will need larger pots, a least 24" in diameter. The larger the pot, the better.

You'll need a pot that is made out of the right materials. I can attest to this. One year, I found a pretty pot at a garage sale. The soil freezes and any rain or water in the pot will freeze too. The frozen water and soil expand. It cracks just like anything made of glass or ceramic when water has frozen. I was heartbroken when I found it had cracked into two pieces.

Look for pots made out of wood or resin. Some are able to stand up to the freezing temperature. It seems like a solution would be to keep the plant in a warm place, but this doesn't work. The clematis can begin to grow during the winter months and you don't want this to happen.

Plant and care for your potted vine, just like you would for one that is grown in the garden.


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.


Barbara Badder (author) from USA on September 24, 2015:

Jody, Yes, it should work. Get it in the ground as soon as you can though. I'm from Michigan also and you can plant this late. Keep it watered well and it should do fine.

Jody on September 23, 2015:

I just received 2 small plants from Publishers clearing House (somebody's gotta win) but it's September and I live in Michigan. Can I go ahead and plant these outside?

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on October 27, 2014:

Randall, They are pretty at a time of year when other things here aren't blooming yet other than the spring bulbs. They are available in your zone, so I hope you can find one. Thanks for commenting.

Randall Guinn from Pinellas Park, Florida on October 27, 2014:

I have seen these in artcles, but nevet at a nursery in Florida. I may try to order some. They are really pretty.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on May 08, 2014:

Writer Fox, Thanks for commenting. I like them, because I have a few that flower earlier than most of my plants. We have quite a collection of them.

Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on May 08, 2014:

This is one of my favorite flowering vines. I enjoyed ready your advice about how to care for them. I really appreciate their long flowering season. Voted up and beautiful!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 15, 2014:

CraftytotheCore, You are so lucky to have wild ones. We don't have those grow in my area.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 15, 2014:

RTalloni, I'm happy to hear I could help you. I'm sure your clematis will be beautiful.

CraftytotheCore on April 15, 2014:

These are so beautiful. We have a wild vine that grows here that looks very similar.

RTalloni on April 15, 2014:

The neighbors trimmed the oak tree and I'm planning to plant more clematis now--yay! :) Thanks again for this useful information on a beautiful flower.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on February 02, 2014:

Nadine, Thanks for reading the hub. I've read that they can be grown there, but need to be kept in pots for the first 3 years. Several articles are available on the subject if you do a search.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on February 02, 2014:

I'm a keen gardener but I'm not sure if Clematis Vines grow in Cape Town - South Africa. I will find out.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on November 16, 2013:

ChristyWrites, I'm happy to hear it made you think of good thoughts. Have a nice weekend.

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on November 16, 2013:

I adore the look of these vines... My Mom has several in her beautiful garden. Your hub makes me smile as I think of her xx

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on October 31, 2013:

teaches12345, Thanks for viewing the hub. I know in the south, you have some beautiful plants that we can't grow here.

Dianna Mendez on October 31, 2013:

These beautuful flowers were so popular in the midwest where I used to live. By the time I found out what they were -- we had to move south. I thank you for bringing out the beauty through your post.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on October 27, 2013:

passionate77, Thanks for your comments and compliments.

passionate77 on October 27, 2013:

wow , so nice and thoroughly written post about growing so lovely clematis, you did a nice research on this topic and shared a detailed hub filled with very helpful tips, million blessings barbara kay for sharing such a nice informative post!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on October 20, 2013:

freefrogging, I wish my spread like that. In the northern part of the country are so spread quickly and we are more limited by the types we can pick. Thanks for reading.

freefogging from Florida on October 20, 2013:

I love my dark pint clematis! I have mine climbing up the step rails. Mine start as "tubers" and multiply under the soil each year. I need to dig them up and plant them around the house. You gave me some great ideas on places to put them. Thanks!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on October 19, 2013:

EGamboa, You are lucky if you live in the south, because you have so many plants to pick from that we don't have in the north. Good luck with clematis. thanks for reading.

Eileen Gamboa from West Palm Beach on October 18, 2013:

I was looking for something flowery and low maintenance. These are definitely worth a try. I have to do the southern variety though.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on September 23, 2013:

Shyron, I'll do that. I may have read it already, but I'll check.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on September 22, 2013:

Thank you Barbara, to know my grandmother was to love her.

In my hub 'If you go to the Blue Hole and Drown,' is a picture of my Grandparents on their wedding and a drawing I did from that picture.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on September 22, 2013:

Thank you Shyron. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it and I would like to have known your grandmother.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on September 22, 2013:

Thank you Barbara Kay for the information. My grandmother grew Clematis vines, also hundreds of other flowers.

I love you hub. Voted up, UBI.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on September 09, 2013:

FlourishAnyway,Your clematis sound pretty. I should get another one to climb up my mailbox. Thanks for commenting.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 09, 2013:

I love clematis, especially in purple. I have one that beautifully drapes my mailbox post and another that climbs a lamp post. They are so hearty and vibrant. I'm not much of a gardener, but I can grow these!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 11, 2013:

starbright, I agree. Thanks for commenting.

Lucy Jones from Scandinavia on August 11, 2013:

The clematis in all its glory and types - is wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 08, 2013:

Thelma Alberts, Check out the zones on the vine you want to purchase. I'm sure there is a variety that will work well in your area. Thank you for voting the hub up and pinning.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 08, 2013:

LaurieNunley517, The ones that grow really large vines can take a few years before they really take off. Our soil here is pure sand. Too bad you and I can't trade a little dirt. Try the bone meal and best of luck with your clematis. Thanks for reading and have a great day.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on August 08, 2013:

I like this flower. It´s gorgeous. Do you know if it will grow in a tropical country? Thanks for sharing this useful information. Voted up and pinned for later use;-)

LaurieNunley517 from Deep South on August 07, 2013:

Thank you for this hub. It was very lavender clematis is looking a little puny. It was good to learn about the bone meal. I think I need to add sand to my soil. It's heavy clay where we live and I guess I need to add some compost as well to keep its "feet" dry!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 07, 2013:

Nell Rose, Some of these are really short, so you can grow one in a pot if you want one. Thanks for voting up and sharing.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 07, 2013:

dobo700, Yes, they are beautiful. Thanks for reading.

dobo700 from Australia on August 07, 2013:

What a beautiful looking plant. I will have to find a spot in my yard for one. Thanks

Nell Rose from England on August 07, 2013:

I only have a balcony, but would love to grow a Clematis, they are gorgeous aren't they? I love reading about how to grow different plants as I am pretty useless at growing anything, apart from my sweet peas! lol! great hub Barbara, voted up and shared, nell

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on July 25, 2013:

RTalloni, Thanks for reading the hub. I have several gardens back by a row of trees. Now moving all that stuff is going to be a big job. When they were planted they got enough sun. The plants are still blooming, but just barely. Ugh! I've got my work cut out for me this fall.

RTalloni on July 24, 2013:

We have a dark wine clematis and that blooms late spring and a white that usually blooms before now. I'm afraid a large oak tree may now be giving it too much shade. Thanks for this look at caring for these amazing flowers!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on July 22, 2013:

tirelesstraveler, Thanks for reading the hub. Clematis do grow across most of the country. Just be sure to check the hardiness zones. You are welcome, and I hope your clematis does well for you.

Judy Specht from California on July 22, 2013:

My aunt had Clematis in Southern California and they were beautiful. This could be a good vine for my yard. Thanks for the idea.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on July 14, 2013:

hawaiianodysseus, The vines are super strong, so I don't know if it would work. Do they use the vines on leis? I've never had the opportunity to go to Hawaii to even see one. I'd like to go there sometime. Thanks for reading the article.

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on July 14, 2013:

Wow, these flowers are so beautiful! The colors on some of these remind me of the vanda orchids my dad grew and my mom artistically sewed into leis. It'd be fun to see if these flowers are strong enough to make those island garlands. Thanks for sharing and pulling at the nostalgic heartstrings with this lovely article! Aloha!


Barbara Badder (author) from USA on July 09, 2013:

Zsuzsy Bee, I hope it works well for you. Are you colder than Michigan? Make sure it is hardy in your zone. Good luck and thanks for commenting.

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on July 09, 2013:

Thanks for sharing . Years ago we lived in a home that had the most gorgeous clematis surrounding the veranda. I have not had much luck in growing clematis here I think it might be too windy. I think I'll give it another try using all of your great advice.

Voted up, interesting and useful

regards Zsuzsy

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on July 09, 2013:

purl3agony, Count yourself luck to have found one. Tiny ones even cost quite a bit. I'm pleased I could help.

Donna Herron from USA on July 09, 2013:

I found a clematis growing in our backyard. Thanks for all the great information to keep it growing :)

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on July 09, 2013:

Stephanie, Thanks for reading and commenting. I love them too, but if you read my other hubs you'll see there aren't to many plants that I don't love.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on July 09, 2013:

moonlake, To be honest, mine don't get pruned either. I do accidentally prune them when I pull down the morning glory vines. It must help, because they are getting bigger ever year.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on July 09, 2013:

The Dirt Farmer, Thanks for reading and commenting. I am pleased to hear that the article helped you.

moonlake from America on July 09, 2013:

I love clematis and have more than a few in my yard. Your information is very interesting because I never touch my clematis and didn't realize I should be pruning them. Voted up.

Stephanie Bradberry from New Jersey on July 09, 2013:

I like clematis. I have one plant and the one plant spreads from the front of one of our bushes to the middle. It is cool coming up the driveway and seeing a pop of purple out of nowhere.

Jill Spencer from United States on July 09, 2013:

Happy to learn about planting depth & adding the bonemeal. Lots of good advice. Thank you!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on July 08, 2013:

Donna, That should work well. Some varieties take some patience, because they grow slowly. Others get big in a hurry. Thanks for reading.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on July 08, 2013:

billybuc, Thanks for reading. Half of the success has to do with keeping the bottom of the plant and the roots cool in hot weather. Just grow some flowers that will keep them covered up. Thanks for reading.

Donna Campbell Smith from Central North Carolina on July 08, 2013:

thank you for the good advice! I think I'll try one. I have a lot of partial shade and sandy soil.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 08, 2013:

I so needed this. I want to grow them but I've had a horrible time in the past doing so. Thanks a ton for this article.

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