How to Grow Clematis Vines

Grow Clematis VIne

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There is something quite beautiful about Clematis Vines, the Queen of Climbers, that always catch my eye. Maybe it’s the vibrant flowers, or that it’s part of the sweet buttercup family? Maybe it’s their full, climbing leaves and their ability to provide full cover.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter why, so let’s talk about tips to grow a clematis vine and how we can get them into our gardens!

Don’t you look forward to blooming season and then get disappointed with how underwhelming your garden looks? Something always seems like it’s missing. You plant and plant, and plan and plan, some it’s not quite there.

The thing you may be missing is the climbing clematis vine to give your garden a pop of color and height! They are user friendly and are always a show stopper!

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Tips to Grow Clematis Vines

Climbing vines: Clematis Vine
  • Do Your Homework
  • Provide Support
  • Know How to Prune & Care
  • Be Patient

Do Your Homework

Did you know there are over 300 species of the clematis flower? That’s a lot of types to figure out. Thankfully, there are grouped into 12 groups headed up by two groups of either large or small types to help you narrow them down.

Know what type of clematis flower or vine you have. This is important because it will help when planning. Because there are so many varieties, this means there are varied vine growth habits.

Having an idea of which species you own, or having knowledge when buying will help you achieve your garden goals. Some vines climbs, some split, some coil, some crawl and sprawl. There are also species that are shrubs!

Also, knowing what kind of clematis vine you have will help you prune properly. Some types of this vine respond different to pruning habits so you want to be sure you are caring for them in their preferred way!

Traditionally, the climbing clematis vine is favored by gardeners. Some of my favorite wall climbing vines are:

Provide Support

As with any climbing vine, this plant needs something to grab onto! If it runs out of something to grab, it will stop growing. So you definitely want to provide some type of climbing support for clematis. If you don’t naturally have a surface for your vines, a great option is to purchase a trellis.

Clematis Vines grow fast, so be prepared early! If you find that the vines are not climbing in the direction you want, there is something you can do about it.

To make clematis climb in the direction you want, position the runners in the location or direction you want them to go. This means literally picking up the creeping legs and placing them either on the wall or trellis manually.

This can add height and dimension to your garden, and allow you to create a beautiful wall of flowers where ever you want!

I really like the kind of trellis that you prop up in your garden that can anchor for safety. This white vinyl trellis is a perfect option when trying to achieve a perfect English Garden.

How to Plant Clematis

Planting clematis at the right time of year will ensure their successful growth. You want to plant them in cool, but not frosted dirt.

The ideal time to grow them is in early spring or mid to late fall (before first frost). The goal here is to plant them with enough time to establish roots before summer.

The location of where you plant them is important too. Remember, we talked about the variety being an important factor in pruning clematis, but it’s almost important to know for the optimal location for planting.

The size of the plant will really determine the best place to plant clematis. The goal is to allow the flowers and leaves to get lots of sun, but the roots stay shaded.

When planting them, dig deep and plant them about 5 inches below the surface of the ground. Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball too, giving the roots room to flourish.

How to Prune Clematis Vines

One you’ve determined which type of plant you have, you will want to resist the temptation to prune them too far. You always want to leave at least a foot of their spindly legs above the ground. 

Remember, there are different pruning requirements, depending on bloom time and whether they bloom on old or new wood. But if you prune them right after they finish blooming, you should be in good shape for years to come. Cutting them down to approximately 12 inches will ensure even growth next bloom.

When thinking about how to take care of clematis, keep in mind they might get a slow start. Don’t panic thinking your plant is dying. They take a while to get established, and don’t like being moved. They also do not like to dry out. Where planted directly in the ground consider providing a good mulch. Be careful though, try to keep your mulch away from direct contact with their stems.

Although they like a sunny location, they appreciate having “cool feet”. You can accomplish this by planting something that would provide shade at their bases, like a hosta plant.

Be Patient

Here’s a cute little saying about the clematis vine that will help set your expectations when growing: “First year it sleeps, second year it creeps, third year it leaps.”

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