How to Care for Clematis Flower Plants

Written by erin harty
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How to Care for Clematis Flower Plants
Clematis vines need adequate support to grow well. (clematis image by Falkenauge from

Clematis is a perennial vine that blooms at varying times of the year. They belong to the buttercup family, and vines can grow anywhere from two feet to 30 feet high. Most clematis are thought of as stationary plants, but there are many compact hybrids that do well planted in containers that are moved indoors when the cold weather hits.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Potting soil
  • Fertiliser
  • Trellis or support system
  • Twine
  • Mulch or bark
  • Pruning shears

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  1. 1

    Choose a sunny location. Plant the clematis in a location where it receives at least four hours of direct sunlight a day. Clematis with darker-coloured flowers should be planted where the afternoon sunlight is filtered to avoid wilting.

  2. 2

    Provide clematis with a support structure. Clematis climbs, so it needs something to cling to as it grows. Planting the clematis along a fence or against a trellis provides adequate support. Use twine to tie the woody stems to the support.

  3. 3

    Plant the clematis. Plant the clematis so the top of the root system is two inches below the surface. Fill the hole with potting soil and water well. The roots of the clematis need to stay cool, so cover the area around the base with mulch, bark or ground cover.

  4. 4

    Prune the clematis at the end of the blooming cycle. Prune the clematis down to 12 inches the first year after it is planted. This directs nutrients to the root system and makes it stronger. In the following years, they should be pruned to three to five feet tall. Pruning methods depend on the flowering time of the clematis.

  5. 5

    Water the clematis. During hot and dry weather, clematis needs a deep, thorough watering once a week. Mist the clematis every other day in moderate temperatures.

  6. 6

    Fertilise the clematis. Add fertiliser or compost to the base of the clematis once a year in early spring. If liquid fertiliser is used, apply it once a month from late spring to early summer.

Tips and warnings

  • Rich, well-drained soil is the best for clematis plants.
  • Low-growing shrubs and shallow-rooted perennial plants work well for keeping clematis roots cool. When using flowering foliage at the base of the clematis, choose colours that complement the vine's blooms.
  • Clematis are separated into three groups for pruning methods. Consult a gardener at a local nursery to find the best time to prune different varieties.
  • When clematis is not pruned properly, it won't bloom consistently or at all.
  • Not all clematis varieties tolerate direct heat well. Read the planting instructions for each plant before purchasing.

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