Caring for Perennials: Clematis

A Guide to Caring for Perennials: Clematis

PLANTING: Set out plants immediately upon receipt spacing widely to allow for ultimate growth and spread. Plant your clematis in moist, well-drained soil that's neutral to slightly alkaline in pH. Dig a deep planting hole and mix garden compost or manure into the soil. Consider the mature dimensions of your clematis variety, they can vary from 3’ (ideal for containers) to 20’ (perfect for fences, arbors, and trellises). Blooms are most prolific when clematis has cool shade at its roots and warm sun on its foliage. Plant a low growing perennial near the base of your clematis or mulch around the roots to help keep the soil cool.

Take extra care when settling the clematis plant into its new location; the roots, crown and emerging vines of clematis are tender and can be easily broken. Place the plant slightly deeper than it was growing in the pot, so the first set of true leaves is just under the soil surface. Water your clematis weekly for the first season to help the plant get established.

MAINTENANCE: It can take several years for a clematis vine to mature and begin flowering vigorously. Do not be discouraged if top growth is slow to appear; the roots must establish themselves before top growth occurs. Provide support for your clematis vine but use a climbing structure that has a narrow diameter, no more than ½”. Why? Because a clematis climbs by wrapping its leaf stems around something and because the leaf stems are not very long, anything more than about 1/2" in diameter is too wide for the leaf stem to twist around. Remember to handle your clematis with care as the vines break easily. Water during periods of drought.

For pruning purposes, Clematis can be divided into 3 groups. The first group blooms in the spring from buds set the previous season. Prune, when needed, after bloom. The second group blooms in early summer on short stems that come from buds set the previous season. In March, remove dead wood and cut the remaining stems back to a pair of strong buds. The third group blooms on new growth. Therefore, prune all stems back to 12 inches from the ground each year in March. We also recommend a winter mulch. They also respond well to a top-dressing of well-aged manure or rich compost, preferably applied twice a year. Zones various.

Where to plant: Light Requirements: Full Sun

Moisture Requirements: Moist, Well-drained

Soil Tolerance: Neutral to slightly alkaline

Spacing: Shape, Height, Width varies based on mature size of species and variety

Uses: Border, Outdoor, Vines and Climbers

Bloom Start to End: Varies based on species and variety

General Planting Instructions

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