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Grow, Prune, Maintain Healthy Clematis

Grow, Prune, Maintain Healthy Clematis

Clematis is one of the most popular flowering vines. They bloom in almost every colour; flowers can be single, double, or semi-double, ranging from small to large. Their shape can be tubular, star-like, flat open discs, or nodding bells. Depending on the cultivar, flowering can take place in spring and again in late summer, all summer long, or in late summer through fall. Given proper support, they are easy to grow. Clematis climbs by twining slender stems (petioles) around a wire (non-rusting, either galvanized or plastic coated) or other thin supports. They can be grown on a wall, fence, pergola, trellis, arbour, obelisk, or pole. They can also be trained to grow on trees, conifers, shrubs, or with climbing roses.

How to Grow

  • Light, wind, soil, and pH are all factors that need consideration.
  • Clematis should have their top growth in at least 6 hours of sun per day.
  • Pale coloured flowers can bleach in strong, afternoon sun and would be better grown in a location with partial shade. Consider the exquisite lavender-blue, large-flowered variety Ramona.
  • Clematis grows best in loamy, moist soils that drain well. They do not like wet feet. If the soil is heavy clay, it is a good idea to amend it before planting with coarse builder’s sand and plenty of manure or compost.
  • For sandy soil, add as much organic matter as possible. Keep clematis well watered at all times and never allow them to dry out.clematis vine
  • Clematis thrives in alkaline soil (pH value more than 7). Determine your pH with a soil test kit available at our Garden Centre.
  • If the soil is extremely acidic, add lime at the time of planting. In future years, test the soil first and add lime when required.

How to Plant

  • Immerse the container in a bucket of water for an hour before planting.
  • Dig a hole twice as wide as the pot and twice as deep.
  • Loosen the base and sides of the hole.
  • Add 10 cm (4″) of manure or compost to the bottom of the hole then add 3 in 1 Planting Mix.
  • Very gently remove the Clematis and its support from the container. Don’t rush the process as stems can break easily.
  • Loosen the roots and place the root ball in the prepared hole with the crown (the spot where the stem meets the roots) 2.5-5 cm (1-2″) below the soil level. This allows new buds to emerge from below the ground in the event the vine is seriously damaged.
  • Fill the sides of the planting hole with 3 in 1 Planting Mix. Dilute Transplanter fertilizer as indicated on the package directions and water in well.
  • Plant a low growing perennial or small shrub close to the newly planted vine. This will maintain moisture and shade the roots to keep them cool which is an important requirement for Clematis.
  • Once established, feed Clematis with water-soluble All Purpose 20-20-20.


  • Early each spring apply Garden All 4-12-8 fertilizer at the recommended rate.
  • As plant growth becomes vigorous you can fertilize Clematis until the flower buds are just about to open, then stop feeding. This prevents the buds from opening in quick succession and prolongs the flowering period.
  • clematis
  • When the flowers are finished start fertilizing again with the Garden All 4-12-8 to invigorate the plant and encourage another flush of flowers, especially in the repeat flowering cultivars.
  • Maintain constant moisture throughout the summer.
  • Eliminate feeding and reduce watering by September.


  • Powdery mildew can sometimes affect Clematis. Watering in the morning is a good way to help prevent this. If the powdery mildew still appears spray with a sulphur solution.
  • Clematis Wilt is far worse. This disease travels rapidly and is often fatal. Symptoms include sudden wilting and collapse of either a previously healthy stem(s) or the whole plant. The wilted stems turn black. There is no effective control. You can cut stems back well below the level of infection or right to ground level. Remove the infected material immediately and do not compost it. Disinfect your pruners.


  • Clematis that bloom in April or May flower on last year’s wood. Some Clematis produce 2 flushes of blooms in spring on old wood and again in late summer on the new growth. These two groups really do not need any pruning unless they’ve become very large and unwieldy or need weak and dead stems removed. If pruning is absolutely necessary it can be done after the initial flowering.
  • To encourage a bushy vine with a lot of flowers, prune these clematis in early spring every year. Cut back all the old stems to the lowest pair of live buds. If not pruned this group often produces straggly plants with only a few blooms at the top.
  • If you do not know which type of clematis you have, bring a flower or the plant tag into our Garden Centre. Our knowledgeable staff will be happy to advise as to the variety name and pruning requirements.

Clematis to be Pruned After Flowering

‘Angelique’, ‘Anna Louise’, ‘Arctic Queen’, ‘Carnaby’, ‘Cezanne’, ‘Dr. Ruppel’, ‘Guernsey Cream’, ‘Henryi’, ‘Marie Boisselot’, ‘Mrs. N.Thompson’, ‘Multi Blue’, ‘Nelly Moser’, ‘Niobe’, ‘Parisienne’, ‘Picardy’, ‘Pink Champayne’, ‘Ramona’, ‘Sugar Candy’, ‘The President’, ‘Vyvyan Pennell’

Clematis to be Pruned in Early Spring

‘Blekitny Aniol’ (Blue Angel), ‘Claire de lune’ (Blue Moon), ‘Clematis tangutica’, ‘Clematis terniflora’, ‘Ville de Lyon’, ‘Comtesse de Bouchard’, ‘Ernest Markham’, ‘Gipsy Queen’, ‘Hagley Hybrid’, ‘Jackmanii’, ‘Rouge Cardinal’