How to Plant and Grow Clematis Vines

Montana Clematis,
Montana Clematis, | Source

Clematis vines are easy to care for and grow. On this page you will find all the information you need to be successful 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 grow 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 3 to 7 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.

Choosing a Site for Your New Clematis

If you are like me, I see something beautiful at the gardening center and I 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 5 feet and don't require such a sturdy structure to grow on. You can even grow some in pots.

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.

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.

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.

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 | Source
One of the clematis growing up our deck
One of the clematis growing up our deck

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 supporting 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.

How to Plant a Clematis, By crocusvideo, Youtube

How to Plant a Clematis

Plant the clematis a little deeper than it is growing in the container by about 2 inches. First remove any leaves that will be below the surface of the soil. By doing this it will encourage the growth of more stems. If the plant is really small, bury it deep, but not as deep as you would the larger plant. You can than push good soil or compost around the plant in the autumn instead.

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 awhile as it breaks down. Clematis likes slightly acidic soil.

Keep the vine watered well after planting.

Caring for Clematis, By Spring Hill Nurseries, Youtube

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 does require being fertilized. It should be done in the spring. Use a 5-10-10 mixture in the spring when the buds have just appeared.

How to Prune a Clematis, By TagawaGardens, Youtube

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. For more information on varieties use the link to read what Organic Gardening has to say.

Another group are 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 bloom on both old and new wood.

Be sure to check out the Organic Gardening listing of when different varieties should be pruned.

Growing in Containers

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 expands. 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.

Pink clematis
Pink clematis | Source

Have you grown clematis?

  • Yes I have and I have several.
  • I have in the past, but I don't have any now.
  • No, but I'd like to try growing them.
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More by this Author


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

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.

DonnaCSmith profile image

DonnaCSmith 3 years ago from Central North Carolina

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

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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.

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States

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

StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 3 years ago from New Jersey

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.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

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.

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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 Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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.

purl3agony profile image

purl3agony 3 years ago from USA

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

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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

Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 3 years ago from Ontario/Canada

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 Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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.

hawaiianodysseus profile image

hawaiianodysseus 3 years ago from Southeast Washington state

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 Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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.

tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 3 years ago from California

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 Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

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 Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

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

dobo700 profile image

dobo700 3 years ago from Australia

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

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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.

LaurieNunley517 profile image

LaurieNunley517 3 years ago from Deep South

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!

Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

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;-)

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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.

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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.

starbright profile image

starbright 3 years ago from Scandinavia

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

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

starbright, I agree. Thanks for commenting.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

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 Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

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 Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

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 Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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

EGamboa profile image

EGamboa 3 years ago from West Palm Beach

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

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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.

freefogging profile image

freefogging 3 years ago from Florida

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 Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

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.

passionate77 profile image

passionate77 2 years ago

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 Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA Author

passionate77, Thanks for your comments and compliments.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

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 Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA Author

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

ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

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 Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA Author

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

Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

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

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA Author

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.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

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.

CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 2 years ago

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

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA Author

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

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA Author

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

Writer Fox profile image

Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

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 Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA Author

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.

Randall Guinn profile image

Randall Guinn 24 months ago from Pinellas Park, Florida

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

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 24 months ago from USA Author

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.

Jody 13 months ago

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 Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 13 months ago from USA Author

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.

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