Clematis is known as the queen of climbers. Its vining stems will happily scramble up trellises, over arbors and through other plants, creating a tapestry of beautiful color. This carefree perennial blooms from early summer through fall, producing star-like blossoms that can be white, pink, red, blue or purple. It's easy to fall in love with clematis, and fun to find new ways to use them in your gardens and landscape.
START WITH A BETTER PLANT
When you compare two clematis plants side by side, it’s easy to see differences in quality. Longfield Gardens supplies grade #1 plants (shown on the far left) with stronger, more well developed root systems than smaller size plants. The bigger the plant, the faster it will settle into your garden and the sooner you'll be enjoying flowers.
PLAN FOR SUCCESS
SHADE AND SUN: Clematis flower best in full sun, although most varieties will grow well in partial shade.
ZONE: Clematis are hardy in zones 4-9. Not sure about your hardiness zone? Check the USDA zone map here.
WHEN TO PLANT: Plant bareroot clematis in early spring while the plants are still dormant. Potted plants may be planted at any time during the growing season.
WHERE TO PLANT CLEMATIS
Clematis flower at different times during the summer. Some varieties flower early, some late and others bloom on and off throughout the growing season. Growing two or more varieties next to each other will give you a longer season of bloom.
Since clematis vines grow up and not out, the plants actually occupy very little space in the garden. This makes it easy to find room for them -- even in a small garden. But since clematis vines can grow 6 to 15 feet tall, it's important for them to give them something to climb on or over. This can be a wooden or metal trellis, a garden structure, a small tree, a fence, wire or poly netting. Most clematis have twining leaf stems that they use to attach themselves to trellises or other plants.
Like most perennials, a newly planted clematis vine needs some time to settle in. It typically takes two growing seasons for a plant to reach its full blooming size. Clematis don’t like to be moved, so before planting, try to choose a permanent location. Here are some popular ways to use clematis around your home and garden:
ENTRYWAYS: Planting clematis near an entryway to your home or garden will greet guests with a beautiful display of color.
ARBORS AND PERGOLAS: Plant clematis where they can scramble up an arbor, pergola or gazebo to create a romantic retreat.
BARE WALLS: Mount a trellis against your house or garage and plant clematis to add texture and a splash of color.
PERENNIAL GARDENS: Add vertical interest to a perennial garden by planting clematis on a freestanding trellis or tuteur.
FENCELINES: Train clematis along the top of a fence or wall to soften hard lines.
PLANTING CLEMATIS IS AS EASY AS 1-2-3
1. Loosen the soil to a depth of 12” and mix in several handfuls of compost and ¼ to ½ cup of all-purpose granular fertilizer (follow package directions).
2. Dig a hole deep enough for the roots, and position the clematis so the crown of the plant (where the roots meet the stem) is right at the soil line.
3. Cover the roots with soil, allowing the growing tips to be barely visible.
TIPS FOR PLANTING CLEMATIS
Though clematis like their “heads” in the sun, the bottom of the plant should be shaded so the roots stay relatively cool.
During the first growing season, your new clematis should be watered whenever the weather is dry. Mulching around the base of the plant will help retain moisture and keep the roots cool. Sometimes clematis need a little help holding onto a trellis or structure. You can use soft twine, waxed string or even zip-ties to attach the vines and provide extra support.
Florists have discovered that clematis also make good cut flowers. A length of clematis vine, combined with other garden flowers and foliage, can turn an ordinary summer bouquet into something spectacular. Varieties that are especially good for cutting include Blue Light, Ramona, Niobe and Multi-Blue.
CARING FOR CLEMATIS AFTER THEY BLOOM
After the flowers fade, some clematis develop decorative seed heads. These can be left in place throughout the growing season. Though it's not necessary, you can also cut off the seed heads to keep the plant looking neat. Some clematis varieties bloom again in late summer or early fall. If you think your clematis could be a rebloomer, remove only the spent flower heads and avoid cutting back the foliage.
Early spring is the best time to prune a clematis. There are two approaches to pruning. Some varieties produce new growth on last year’s vines, so they should only be pruned to shape the overall plant. Others varieties die back to the ground. Since any new growth comes from the base of the plant, all of the prior year's vines can be removed. Until you get to know your clematis, it’s best to wait until the plant has sprouted new growth. That way you can see where it's coming from and prune accordingly.
Fertilize your clematis in the spring when the first leaves start to unfurl. Follow package instructions, sprinkling approximately ¼ to ½ cup of all-purpose granular fertilizer around the base of the plant.
If your clematis outgrows its space, you can control the growth by simply cutting back the entire plant to a height of 5". This can be done in fall or early spring. Stray vines may also be trimmed back any time during the growing season.