How to Plant and Grow Clematis

How to Plant and Grow Clematis

Table of Contents

One of the most popular perennial shrubs – and with very good reason! – the purple, blue, and white flowers sprouting from the sprawling vines of a clematis are a sensational addition to every backyard, from a Greek-inspired garden to a small townhouse patio.

In this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know to grow, and care for this long-lasting and eye-catching shrub - read on!

What is the best place to plant clematis?

There are three main considerations to take into account when figuring out where in your garden to put this perennial shrub. The first is your clematis’ sun requirements.

As sun-hungry shrubs, clematis needs six hours of full sunlight a day. Therefore, choosing a bright spot that gets a lot of direct sunshine is crucial.

The second consideration is the delicacy of its roots which, conversely to its foliage, need to remain cool. Yep, the answer to the question, ‘does clematis like sun or shade?’ is both! The roots need shade while the rest of it delights in full sun!

If the base of this perennial is exposed to too much sunlight its growth will be stunted. So you need to plant your clematis somewhere where its roots can be protected and shaded, either by other low-growing perennials, by a protective layer of mulch or pebbles or other ground cover that will keep its roots cool while the rest of the plant embraces a full day of sun.

Finally, let’s not forget why this plant is known as ‘the queen of the vines’ – it likes to grow! Therefore, plant it near a fence, trellis, arbor or other structural support system that will enable your clematis to reach great heights!

It’s also a good idea to think of where you plant it in terms of the other flowers and plants you have in your garden. Clematis and roses are known for making a beautiful pairing and so you might want to consider planting your clematis near or around some rose bushes.

Check out our ultimate guide on the easiest roses to grow or for tips on caring for your rose plants, you’ll find everything you need to know here.

What is the best soil for clematis?

Clematis do best in rich, loamy soil that is well-draining and has a neutral pH. Though it loves moist soil, waterlogged earth that is too compacted or clay-like will affect your plant’s growth.

Particularly as new plants, clematis are hungry devils that require lots of nutrients and so mixing organic matter like compost, manure, or a good fertilizer into your planting soil is necessary for a healthy plant.

Keep reading for more clematis planting instructions!

When to plant clematis?

The optimum time to plant these long-living perennials is anytime between late spring and early autumn. The main thing to avoid is soil that is too cold (as in winter time) or too hot. Therefore, it’s a good idea to hold off planting clematis in the height of summer, particularly as the soil will be drier then and will need a lot more water in order for your plant to survive.

Related Post: How to water plants while away

How to grow clematis

Now you know the basic clematis growing conditions, how do you grow and care for this plant?

Once you have chosen your sunny spot near a structure for your clematis to climb (with good ground cover), dig a deep hole about two times the size of the root ball. You want to make sure the crown of the root is about six inches below the soil for better stem development and a more robust plant.

You can cover the topsoil with a layer of mulch to ensure the root stays cool and moist.

As your clematis grows, you can attach it to a training trellis before it becomes strong enough to grab onto your main fence, wall, or trellis. Your clematis’ growth rate will depend on the variety you have chosen, just like clematis’ size varies from a few feet to upto 30 feet!

In general, though, clematis tend to take a couple of years to really start climbing. Once they do, however, expect this queen of the vines to hurtle skyward at an impressive growth rate!

Clematis watering

How often your clematis will need to be watered will depend on the variety you choose as well as your soil and climate conditions. However, new vines will need regular watering attention during their first year and you should aim to water them at least once a week, often several times a week during dry or hotter periods.

It’s important not to let the soil dry out. One inch of water weekly usually is enough to keep the soil at a correct moisture level for an established plant. For clematis in pots, you will need to water 2-3 times a week.

Though clematis plants need regular watering, you need to ensure your soil is releasing this water and doesn’t remain too wet. The goal is consistently moist soil, not sodden earth.

Best trellis for clematis plants

Clematis and roses also work well together because they are both climbing plants and so are the perfect adornment for trellis, fences, or even mailboxes

First of all, make sure your trellis is as tall as your clematis’ size as, without anything to hold onto, your plant won’t otherwise be able to reach its full potential.

The best trellises for your climbing vine will be ones that are strong and long-lasting as a healthy clematis can tear down weak trellises as it climbs. However, particularly in the plant’s younger days, choose a trellis that is thin enough for leaf stems to hold onto (about half an inch thick) with frequent openings. Good materials for clematis trellises include concrete reinforcing wire or re-mesh, wire garden fencing, and wood.

How to grow clematis on a fence

Plant your clematis roughly 45cm from the base of your fence – this gives your plant better air circulation and access to rain. Between the plant and the fence, you can then erect a trellis or poles to train your young plant onto. These will help your clematis to work up to attaching to the fence as they get stronger.

The poles should be put into the soil at an angle so that they are facing back towards the fence. Attach your plant to these poles or a training trellis – which again should be thin enough for the tender tendrils to wrap around – with twine.  Then, as your clematis grows, continue to attach its growing vines to fence poles with more twine, spreading out each tendril to get the desired effect you want, be that privacy, a colorful floral display, or a vertical vine.

Offering so much to your garden from privacy to camouflaging your garbage cans, clematis are a wonderful addition to any yard.

No room for this growing vine outside? Bring the big-flowered joy of this plant indoors with a beautiful bouquet from SendFlowers or FromYouFlowers. Make it a regular treat by getting a monthly subscription to a flower delivery service like MonthlyClubs or BloomsyBox instead!

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