Clematis Care: The Ultimate Guide To Growing and Pruning Clematis

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Learn how to grow and prune Clematis to produce big, beautiful flowers all summer long with this Clematis care guide that has all of the information you need.

Clematis Care: How To Grow Clematis With Big Beautiful Blooms

Clematis Care

I have come to the realization that I am a little obsessed with Clematis.

I didn’t actually know how obsessed until I started taking pictures for this post. There are 25 different varieties of Clematis growing in my garden at the moment! And I’m not ruling out getting some more 🙂

However, I think I’m justified.  All you have to do is look at those beautiful blooms to know why I have so many of them.

Beautiful Clematis blooms
Beautiful Clematis blooms

But that’s not the only reason.  Clematis is a very versatile and easy to grow perennial vine.  It comes in many colors, sizes and bloom times.  There are varieties with large flowers, small flowers, single or double petals, bell-shaped or tubular blooms.  Some varieties will only grow to be 2 – 3 feet tall, while others can cover the side of a garage.

And in almost all cases, the clematis vines are not invasive, so you can grow them through other bushes without worrying about killing the plants (I do have experience with a couple of exceptions which I will tell you about later).

It has so many redeeming qualities that I think should be a part of everyone’s garden (which is why clematis is on my all-time favorite perennials list).

So that’s the “why” to grow Clematis…keep reading to find out where and how to grow Clematis or if you prefer, you can skip straight to the section you want to know about:

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32 Responses

    • Hi Sharon…the bloom time varies quite a bit depending on the variety, but most of them bloom for 3 to 4 weeks. I also find a lot of them last longer when it’s not too hot, so some of it will depend on where you live.

  • I also live in South Carolina, Summerville to be exact, the clematis I have is group 2, I think, it blooms on old wood but very sparse, and then I get new branches coming up too, I’m so confused, a neighbor down the street told me not to prune at all, I have mulch around the roots to keep it cool, and the top is in some light morning sun and late evening sun but it looks so pathetic, I’m from Alaska where we can’t grow them at all because of the short summers, it has new sprouts popping out just about year round, and then we get cold again and they die off, but as soon as we have unusual warm Temps they sprout leaves but no flowers, help please if you can I’m confused.

    • Hi Brenda…In my area (Greenville), I find Clematis blooms really well in the spring and the fall (and often the same plant will bloom twice). But most of them look really pathetic in the summer…I think it’s just too hot. Since yours is blooming on old wood, youor neighbor’s suggestion of not pruning it could also help (to be honest, I rarely prune any of my Clematis unless they are growing somewhere I don’t want them). You can also try sprinkling compost, organic rose fertilizer, bone meal or alfalfa pellets (ie. rabbit or deer food) around the bottom of it. General fertilizers (like Miracle Gro or Osmocote) have too much Nitrogen, which produces a lot of leaves but not flowers so I wouldn’t use those. Clematis are so beautiful when they are blooming…I hope this works!

    • Hi Julie…I suspect it’s either too hot, too dry or needs some Clematis fertilizer.

      Clematis like to have cool roots, so if you think it is too hot, you can try spreading some mulch around the bottom of the plant or planting a low growing perennial in front of it to keep the sun off. The mulch will also help to keep the soil from drying out too fast.

      Having said that, I live in an area where the summers are really hot and humid…most of my Clematis look like they are having a hard time in the summer, but they always bounce back once it starts to cool down in the fall.

      Those big, beautiful Clematis blooms do require a lot of nutrients from the soil. You can try using a Clematis fertilizer (should not be too high in Nitrogen). Or if you want to go the organic route, sprinkle alfalfa pellets around the base of the plant and water them until they turn mushy.

      If you are still having problems, you can also cut it back, pretty close to the ground and let it re-grow.

      Hope this helps!

  • Maybe try grass clippings around the bases of the plants. I have two of my plants in a garden bed around an old stump. One is in direct sun, the other in part sun, and they both seem to do equally well. I actually have never pruned my plants, unless cutting off a newly rooted vine. Love your pictures and advice!

    • Thanks, Michelle! I have to admit, I don’t usually get around to pruning mine either and they seem to do fine 🙂 But I think I do get more blooms when I actually do prune them properly.

    • Hi Karen…according to the Rutgers University Deer Resistance list, Clematis falls into the “Occasionally Severely Damaged” category. So not the absolute worst (which would be the Frequently Severely Damaged category), but not great either. So I think you’re right…if you have a deer problem, there are probably better options…

  • I’m in Essex UK not to far from London, I find I’m not getting large blooms & some clematis disappeared completely :o(

    • Hi Jacqueline…I’m sorry to hear you are having problems with your Clematis. Most of the time when I have issues with them, it’s because they are either getting too much or not enough water. But they usually are pretty hard to kill (the ones that have disappeared may surprise you and re-grow later.) If you haven’t tried fertilizing them, that could be another option that would help the size of the blooms (use a fertilizer that is lower in Nitrogen so you don’t just get more leaves). You can also take a look at the Royal Horticultural Society website…they have some suggestions on other Clematis problems you might have. Good luck with them!

  • I’m having problems with the leaves turning yellow all of a sudden. Never did before and I’m not doing anything different. Any thoughts on what the problem could be and how to correct it? Thanks for any help you can give me.

    • Hi Thelma…it’s possible that there is an iron or magnesium deficiency in the soil. You can try sprinkling some iron chelate around the plant for the first issue. For magnesium, mix 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts with a gallon of water, and water the plant with it once a week for about a month. Also, if it has been hotter than usual, it could just be the heat…the plant should recover on its own once it cools down. Hope this helps!

  • Thanks Wanda for replying. I live in Oregon and we haven’t had real hot weather so far this year. My three plants started turning yellow as soon as they leaves out. As I said, in the past I didn’t have this problem. It just started in the last three to four years. I’ve been told to shade the roots more, which I did to no avail. I’ve made sure they were getting enough water. All the leaves doesn’t turn yellow, just enough to let me know something isn’t quite what it should be. Again thanks for your help. Will try the Epson Salts and the Iron remedy and see if that helps.

  • Thank you for that exelent and full information. I found out all answers to my questions reading your article. Thank you.

  • I found everything very useful.
    I live in Mississauga, Ontario. I am going to try several of your suggestions.
    Thank you.

    • I’m happy you found it helpful, Barbara. I am originally from Toronto so have some experience growing Clematis up there, too 🙂 The same principles apply.

  • I have a clematis but not sure what kind. I did get some blooms the first year and then it looked like it died.So I didn’t think too much of it. The branches are really thin and look dead. I pulled it up last year and behold It came back! So could you give me some advice what I should do now?

    Thank You very much. It was my husbands favorite and he is gone now and I would love to keep it growning.

    • Hi Virginia…I’m sorry to hear about your husband. The fact that your Clematis came back is a good sign 🙂 Mine do die back like that and they really do look dead. Most of the time I just leave them alone and they re-grow…a lot of the time even the dead looking branches will start to put out leaves in the spring. So I think as long as you put some mulch around the bottom of it and make sure that it is well watered, it should be fine. If you want to give the plant an added boost, you can sprinkle some compost or fertilizer around the base of it. Hope this helps!

  • Boy! The Clematis “Josephine” is a very unique and gorgeous flower! You get 3 flowers in 1 and I must find one of these!

    Thank you very much for this very informative article. I have read others that tried to explain the pruning process for each of the groups and yours is the first one that I fully understood and allowed me to identify which group my Clematis falls in (group 2).

    I currently only have one Clematis in my yard but it is my favorite plant next to my Hydrangeas. I definitely would like to add a couple more and your article also helped me to realize which ones I would enjoy the most. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Stacy! “Josephine” is one of my favorite Clematis. I love all the different flower variations it produces! I’m happy you were able to identify which type of Clematis you have…and good luck with your future additions 🙂

  • Wow, I’m just now discovering Clematis and how beautiful they are! Thank you for sharing so much information. Do you have a favorite source for buying them online? I don’t see them typically in my area even though they’ll live in my zone. Just wondering!

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