The Clematis genus comprises woody climbing vines. The growth habit of Clematis species proves primarily deciduous though some plants present as evergreen or herbaceous perennials. Due to the plant’s sensitive root system, clippings cannot be taken, but other methods of propagation do exist.
Clematis vines have extremely sensitive roots that are shallow and fibrous. According to Ohio State University horticulturalist Jane C. Martin, these roots damage easily when disturbed. The wrong soil or climactic environment will also damage Clematis roots and affect plant growth and health. The thin roots grow vertically and laterally in search of water and nutrients, yet prove noninvasive and not aggressive. Cutting the Clematis’ roots constitutes a severe disturbance that seriously impacts the plant’s health and may result in rapid deterioration.
Despite the infeasibility of propagating Clematis species via root cuttings, specimens can be propagated via shoot cuttings. The BBC Garden Guides warns that propagating Clematis by cuttings is challenging; Martin recommends taking shoot cuttings in May or June for optimal success in propagation. According to the BBC, a healthy 3-foot-high shoot from the current season’s growth is best for propagation. Moisten the shoot and place it in a plastic bag. This large cutting requires segmenting before propagation.
Preparing Clematis cuttings for propagation entails cutting directly above each leaf joint to and severing the segment from the shoot 2 inches below the initial cut. Martin recommends planting segmented root cuttings in a soil mixture of two parts sand and one part peat. Augmenting soil with a rooting hormone encourages optimal growth. Clematis prefers moist, cool soil. In optimal conditions, shoots will root within a few weeks. Large hybrid species may take as long as four months to root.
Clematis roots do not fare well when competing with the roots of trees or other large, aggressive species. Roots grow up to 24 inches deep and in a 36-inch radius from all parts of the plant so soil within that area should be properly prepared. A mixture of two parts soil, one part compost or rotted manure creates ideal soil conditions for outdoor growth. Specimens require partial sun exposure and prefer a neutral 7.0 soil pH.