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Growing Clematis

Growing Clematis

Sweet Summer Love Clematis



Clematis are popular flowering vines in a range of colors and flower forms. Most are self-climbing and best grown on a strong trellis, arbor, or fence. Sweet autumn types (Clematis paniculata) are sprawling, non-climbing forms with masses of small flowers. Clematis can also be allowed to grow through shrubs, and more compact varieties are good in large containers.

Most types of clematis are hardy to zone 4, and some types are zones 3 hardy.

Clematis varieties are classified by their pruning requirements and whether they flower on old growth, new growth, or both.

  • Group I varieties flower only on old growth. They should be pruned lightly, just to maintain size and shape. Heavy pruning can reduce flowering.
  • Group II varieties bloom on both old and new wood. They can be pruned either before or after flowering.
  • Group III varieties bloom on new growth. They can be pruned heavily in spring if desired without reducing flowering.

How To Grow

Plant potted clematis after the last frost in spring and bare root plants up to 4 to 8 weeks earlier. Soak the roots of bare root clematis in water for several hours before planting to ensure plants are well hydrated. Prepare a planting hole 12 inches wide and deep amended well with compost or other organic matter. Plant with the roots as deep as when grown in the nursery. 


For full sun to part shade in moist, well-drained soil. Dislikes heavy clay soils. Benefits from mulching to keep soil cool and moist. Prefers a cool climate, and benefits from afternoon shade in hot climates. To maintain soil alkalinity, ½ cup of agricultural lime can be mixed into the soil each spring.

Benefits from pruning to maintain vigor and strong flowering. Varieties are classified into three groups based on their flowering time and whether they flower on old wood, new wood, or both. In late winter to early spring the first season after planting, all types can be pruned back to 6 to 12 inches tall, just above a healthy bud. In later seasons, damaged or dead stems can be removed and vines prune to shape them or maintain compact size if desired.

Planting several different varieties together provides an extended bloom period.

Fertilizer Recommendations

Clematis is a heavy feeder that benefits from fertilization every 4 to 6 weeks. Use full rates of  ALGOplus All Purpose 6-6-6 liquid fertilizer, Jung's Jump Start Clematis and Lilac Starter 1-5-1, or Neptune Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer 2-3-1.

Common Problems

Not commonly troubled by pests or diseases. Aphids, mites, and earwigs are occasional insect pests. Powdery mildew, leaf spot, stem rot, and wilt are occasional disease problems. Rabbits sometimes eat plants. Use Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew to treat insect pests. Use 70% neem oil or Serenade to prevent disease problems.

Alternative Products

Other hardy perennial flowering vines include Blue Moon Wisteriahoneysuckle Vine, and Maypop passionflower.

Product Recommendations

Combines well with shallow-rooted, low-growing hardy perennials like Chocolate Chip Ajuga or creeping phlox.

Clematis Facts

Clematis tolerates being grown near walnut trees.


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