How to Cultivate Clematis


Clematis vines are members of the buttercup family with woody stems and green compound leaves made up of three to five leaflets. These flowers twine up any support nearby and produce showy, fragrant blooms in a variety of colors. Clematis vines grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 3 and higher. The vines live as long as 25 years with proper cultivation and grow from 2 to 12 feet long during the summer, depending on the variety.



things you’ll need:
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Rake
  • Pruners
  • Stake
  • Fertilizer
  • Hand trowel
    1. Remove the weeds in an area that receives at least six hours of sunlight each day. In warm climates, place the clematis vine in an area with filtered afternoon shade. Dig the soil up with a shovel to the depth of 24 inches in an area 36 inches wide. Mix a 12-inch-layer of compost or well-rotted manure into the loosened soil. Rake the soil smooth and level.
    2. Dig the planting hole as deep as the rootball plus 2 inches. Place the rootball in the hole so that the crown of the clematis is 2 inches below ground level. Pack soil into the hole around the root ball, then water the area well to settle the soil.
    3. Cut the clematis stems back to 12 inches tall or just above some of the lower buds with a pair of hand pruners. This encourages the clematis to produce more branches and become more bushlike.
    4. Place a tall stake or trellis into the soil 12 inches away from the vine. Use a support structure that is made up of thin or wirelike materials. The small clematis tendrils cannot grasp thick poles. Start training the vines to climb up the support once the stems grow tall enough
    5. Spread 2 to 3 inches of compost or wood chips around the base of the plant. Mulching keeps the soil cool and retains soil moisture. Replenish the mulch each spring to maintain the depth. Water the vines weekly when it does not rain. Clematis requires 1 inch of water per week.
    6. Feed the clematis 1/2 lb. per 50 square foot of 10-10-10 or 15-5-5 slow-release fertilizer each spring. Scratch the fertilizer into the top inch of soil with a hand trowel. Stop feeding once the vines are established and growing vigorously in a couple of years.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clematis vines grow well up fences and walls. They are used to cover unsightly areas or to add fragrant flowers to an outside sitting area.

  • Clematis vines tend to tangle together making pruning difficult. Train the vines to grow spaced out to make cutting back the clematis easier.

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