How to Transplant Clematis in Minnesota


Clematis is the showiest of the vines that can be grown in Minnesota, according to the University of Minnesota Extension website. Unlike other flowering vines, it comes in a color and size for every garden and most varieties are hardy even in the coldest parts of the state. Although a clematis vine takes several years to become established, it can live and bloom for 25 years, making it well worth planting if you intend to stay where you are. Those on the move, however, do not have to say goodbye to a favorite vine. With some basic knowledge and a measure of care, it is possible to transplant a clematis to a new location.

Moderately Easy


things you’ll need:
  • Shovel
  • Pruning sheers
  • Tarp
  • Plastic pot

Transplanting a Clematis

    1. Plan to transplant the clematis in early spring while the vine is still dormant. Estimate the size of the clematis vine’s root system by observing the size of the vine and assess whether there are roots from other plants that might interfere with the transplant process. Think twice about moving a large and old vine that has been in the ground for many years because its root system will be too extensive to dig up.
    2. Prepare a large hole where the clematis will be transplanted, preferably 3 feet wide and deep. Remove any heavy clay or foundation sand that may linger under the topsoil, and have compost-enriched soil standing by to fill in the hole once transplanting begins. Locate the hole on the east side of the house, if possible, because clematis prefers sun as well as cool roots, and sometimes the west or south side is too hot for the root system. If you cannot transplant the vine immediately, put it in a pot with drainage holes and be sure to water it periodically, depending on the dictates of the weather.
    3. Prune the vines back to 12 to 18 inches, cutting above two lateral buds. Omit pruning if the plant has few stems, or shorter stems, that can be moved without incurring damage. Keep in mind that the vines often are brittle and can break easily, so it is usually best to cut them back before transplanting.
    4. Dig at least a foot away from the crown of the vine, and further than this if possible. Go to the full depth of the shovel’s blade, remove some soil, and use your hands to determine where the roots are. Gradually dig around the plant, taking as much of the root ball as possible. Lift the root ball and place it on a tarp or in a wheelbarrow if it is too large to carry.
    5. Plant the vine immediately into the prepared hole, placing it 2 inches deeper than it was before, as this is one means to deter clematis wilt, a fungal disease that commonly affects these otherwise easy-to-grow vines. Fill in the hole and erect a trellis or some other climbing mechanism to support future growth. Water well and provide consistent moisture throughout the growing season.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you must plant a clematis on the west or south side of the house, use shredded bark or cocoa beans to mulch around the base of the vine to cool the root system, or plant annuals or perennials that will cast shade on the same area. Clematis clings using lateral tendrils, but sometimes the weight of the top growth causes the vine to flop back toward the ground. Check the vine throughout the growing season to make sure that it is holding to the trellis.

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