How to Take Care of Clematis Vines

Clematis is a hardy vine that is part of the buttercup family. Although some clematis are evergreens, the most commonly seen of its many varieties is the woody deciduous type, according to the University of Ohio Extension. Clematis are available in many colours and growth patterns that meet the needs of varied garden landscapes. Most clematis varieties are winter-hardy for planting in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 and higher. Clematis a perennial plant that grows back each spring when cut back to the ground before winter.

Select a planting area for the clematis that receives approximately six hours full sunlight, preferably during the early part of the day. Loosen the soil in an area 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep. Remove one-third of the soil. Replace the soil with organic compost, working it into the hole to a depth of 24 inches.

Dig a hole deep and wide enough to allow room for the spreading of the clematis' root system. Cut the stems of the clematis to 12 inches long, using a pruning clipper. Set the plant in the hole so the crown is 2 to 3 inches below the soil surface. Pack soil gently around the roots to hold the plant in place.

Water the soil around the clematis to moisten it to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. This compacts the soil around the roots to prevent air pockets and provides moisture for root establishment.

Place a lattice support structure next to the clematis. Train the vines to attach and grow up the structure. Large clematis varieties require a trellis 5 to 6 feet tall for proper support.

Spread a 2-inch layer of organic mulch over the planting area to keep the soil cool and assist with moisture retention. Clematis grows best when the roots remain cool. Refresh the mulch layer each year to keep a 2-inch layer in place.

Fertilise the clematis after planting to stimulate growth by applying a 3-1-2 fertiliser according to the package instructions. Established clematis plants do not require heavy fertiliser applications. Work a 1-inch layer of organic compost into the soil around the plant to provide a natural fertiliser.

Provide supplemental water to the clematis during the hot summer months when the weekly rainfall is less than 1 inch. Water with a soaker hose, or manually apply water at soil level as needed to keep it evenly moist.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Organic compost
  • Pruning clipper
  • Organic mulch
  • 3-1-2 fertiliser
  • Soaker hose
  • Support structure
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About the Author

Jennifer Loucks has been writing since 1998. She previously worked as a technical writer for a software development company, creating software documentation, help documents and training curriculum. She now writes hobby-based articles on cooking, gardening, sewing and running. Loucks also trains for full marathons, half-marathons and shorter distance running. She holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science and business from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.