Tagged as the rightful queen of climbing plants, clematis is a welcome addition to any home garden.
As a perennial, its beautiful colorful blooms come out in spring through summer and become dormant from fall to winter.
Given the ideal growing conditions, you can expect clematis vines to last for more than 80 years.
When to plant clematis? The best time to plant bare-root clematis is in fall or early spring or when the ground is moist and warm, not hot. Those from the North can plant in early summer, but you will have to water it more so that it can establish strong roots.
Choosing a Clematis Variety To Grow
You will find a wide range of clematis varieties available.
When deciding which types of clematis to grow, consider the sun requirement, flower forms, color, and size you prefer.
This way, you will know exactly what to expect.
Here are the most common cultivars for home gardeners:
This clematis variety grows as an evergreen and produces small, white flowers.
For something that grows well on arbors and trellises, choose this cultivar.
Its gorgeous magenta flowers bloom last, often anywhere from late spring to fall.
A favorite among gardeners, the Jackmanii variety produces deep purple flowers and will grow vigorously given the right conditions.
Compared to others, Niobe clematis plants don’t grow very large.
Because of this, it is the perfect clematis variety for growing in pots.
You will love how its red flowers stand out from the crowd.
If you are a beginner home gardener, you’ll have the best chance if you grow this hardy and easy-to-establish clematis variety.
Its big, pink blossoms make it one of the most loved types of clematis.
Those from regions with particularly hot climates will do well growing the Princess Diana variety.
Its bell-shaped, pale pink blossoms also have a unique look that will beautify any home garden.
This clematis variety is known for being a good climber and having blue-violet flowers.
How To Plant Clematis
Because of its growing popularity over the past couple of years, many nurseries sell potted clematis.
We recommend transplanting these already-established plants into your garden instead of growing from seeds.
After all, it could take you years before you even see them flower if you grow them from seeds.
Here are the steps to planting clematis outdoors:
Step 1: Choose the ideal planting location.
Clematis are hardy perennials that will thrive in growing zones 3 through 9.
Provided they get a minimum of six hours of full sun each day, you can expect them to grow strong roots and produce vibrant blooms.
You can also grow a few varieties alongside shrubs or a small tree without problems, but make sure they still get access to full sun.
In doing this, the vines will have a structure to climb.
Step 2: Prepare the ground for planting.
Once you found the right location, next is to check if the soil is ideal for planting.
Clematis prefer soil that retains moisture and drains well enough that the roots don’t sit in standing water.
You will know it’s just right if the water slowly yet steadily seeps into the ground.
At the same time, check for the soil’s pH level, aiming for it to be alkaline or neutral rather than acidic.
To lower its acidity, mix in wood ash or limestone.
You’d also want to dig up the ground deeply and add organic fertilizer or compost to the mix to enrich the soil.
Step 3: Plant the clematis.
Is the ground ready and rich with nutrients? If so, you’re ready to plant!
To plant clematis, gently remove it from the pot without breaking up the fragile root system.
Place the entire root ball around three to five inches deep in the planting hole.
The goal is to plant it deep enough that the first set of leaves is kept on top of the soil surface.
Step 4: Put mulch around the soil surface.
Clematis plants prefer it when their roots are kept cool.
As such, put around four inches of mulch around the plant to shield the roots from the sun.
To make sure the ground is packed with nutrients, replenish the mulch every spring.
You can also plant low-growing perennials around the plants to help shade the roots.
How To Water Clematis
After planting, the next stage is learning how to water clematis to ensure it is getting enough hydration.
Not sure how to do this? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Tip 1: Keep the plants well-watered.
Like any growing plant, clematis needs regular watering.
To know it is time to water your clematis plants, check if the soil around them has dried up.
Do this by sticking a finger about an inch into the ground. If it comes out dry, water the plants deeply.
Basically, you will have to give the plants around an inch of water every week.
Tip 2: Don’t water too much.
While they will welcome regular watering, make sure that you don’t give them too much.
The mulch on top of the soil surface holds on to moisture, so you might not need to water your clematis plants as often.
This is why you must check the ground first before watering.
You will only need to water them more during dry spells or if you live in an area with a dry or hot climate.
Tip 3: Water them in the morning.
Always choose to water your clematis plants in the morning, not in the afternoon or evening.
This way, the plants get to absorb the water well before the temperature drops at night.
While they like to keep their roots cool, it won’t help if their roots are kept wet and moist throughout the night.
Also, watering in the morning means there is still enough ventilation around the plants to keep the foliage dry.
As you already know, wet foliage encourages powdery mildew and pest infestations.
How To Grow Clematis
Clematis vines don’t like being moved once established, so you have to give them proper care in their permanent growing location.
These will include providing them with structural support, fertilizing them regularly, and pruning their stems at the right time.
To learn more about how you can do this correctly, here are more expert tips to growing clematis:
Tip 1: Provide support for the vines.
As you already know, clematis are climbing plants, so they need extra attention to ensure they have a structure to climb.
They grow by twisting their stems around vertical supports, so build an arbor or trellis around your growing area.
You will need to do this about a year after planting.
Tip 2: Fertilize.
A happy and healthy flowering plant will produce rich foliage and vibrant blooms.
Similar to any flowering plant, your clematis plants need plenty of nutrients.
Feed your plants with a 10-10-10 fertilizer every four to six weeks or add compost around the plants’ base.
Tip 3: Prune.
There will be times when you notice clematis wilting, which is probably the result of a fungus.
Regular pruning is important to ensure that you prevent fungal diseases from spreading.
Trim away any dead or black stem using a pair of disinfected shears.
To encourage more blooms, it would help if you also cut off old stems to free up space and allow new ones to grow.
Do this right after the season’s first bloom, cutting off the oldest stems at the base of the plant.
Keep in mind that different types of clematis also have varying pruning requirements.
Learn more about how to take care of the clematis variety you are growing by asking your local garden center or looking it up online.
How Long Do Clematis Take To Grow?
Because they live long lives, clematis vines take their time to settle in to their new environment.
Often, they would take two growing seasons before they even reach their blooming size.
Others might even take as long as three years.
Once their root system has grown strong and healthy, you can expect these perennials to bloom, rest, and flower again the next blooming season.
Just make sure you provide them with the right amount of nutrients, hydration, and climbing space.
With these, you can expect to enjoy the beauty of clematis blooms every flowering season for many years to come.
Your clematis plants will begin growing rapidly once the roots have been established.
To limit growth, some home gardeners choose to plant these vines in pots rather than in-ground.
Growing clematis vines will add a pop of color to your home garden.
They are long-lasting perennials that are easy to grow and require little care.
And you can even propagate new plants from cuttings and give them away to friends and family.
With the expert tips provided, we’re confident that even a beginner home gardener like you will find success in growing these hardy climbing plants.