Growing, Pruning and Care Guide

Untitled Document

• Planting Clematis

• Pruning Clematis

• Selecting Clematis

• When should Clematis be planted?

• Growing support for climbing plants

• Growing Wisteria

• Growing in containers

Planting Clematis


The best time to plant is spring and the autumn, but all container grown plants can be planted at any time. Clematis planted in the summer will need regular watering as the plant will be in full growth and the roots will not be fully established.

Before planting thoroughly soak the plant in a bucket of water.

Dig a hole, at least twice as wide as the pot in which the plant is growing and half as deep again.

Add some well rotted organic compost ( leaf-mould, decayed manure, etc) to the bottom of the hole, add a handful of bonemeal and cover with a thin layer of soil. Carefully remove the plant with its cane support from the container and gently tease out some of the roots and place in the hole. Large flowered cultivars should be planted with two leaf nodes below soil level. This will mean that the top of the container plant will be at least 3 inches below the soil level. Planting this deep will encourage the plant to become multi-stemmed. Species clematis, which have thin fibrous root systems, do not be need to be planted deeply. Back-fill with a mixture of soil and compost . Water the plant well.

When planting next to shrubs or tress place the hole outside the rain shadow and use the canes to train the plant into the shrub/tree.

When planting next to a wall, place hole at least 2 feet from the wall and train plant along the cane towards the wall. In both these cases particular attention should be paid to regular watering until well established.

It is recommended that all newly planted clematis should be pruned to 6-10 inches either immediately after planting or during the first year. This will encourage the plant to become multi-stemmed, bushy and increase the number of flowers.

Pruning Clematis


The pruning of clematis often prompts many questions. A simple general guide is as follows:

No pruning – clematis that flower on the previous year's growth before June.

Hard pruning – clematis that flower on the current year's growth from June onwards.

More detailed pruning guide.

Clematis are placed into three categories variously called 1, 2 or 3

1 : No pruning C. alpina, C. macropetala, C. Montana, and the evergreen C. armandii, C. cirrhosa and New Zealand cultivars. If you do need to prune or tidy, do so immediately after flowering .

2 : Light pruning . Early large flowered varieties. These include C. Nelly Moser, Dr. Rupple and the double and semi-double flowering groups. May and June sees the main flush of flowers on short growths from the previous years stems with a smaller flush of flowers in August/September. Cut out dead and weak stems in February or March. If this years stems are removed next years early flowers are also removed.

3 : Hard pruning : Late flowered hybrids – C. Jackmanii, C. viticella and its cultivars, C. tangutica, C.texensis and cultivars, and most small flowered species such as C. rehderiana.

Prune in February, March or possibly April. Leave two live buds from the ground and remove the rest of the plant. The resulting new growth should have the growing points removed at about 12 inches to increase stem numbers and so flowers.

Herbaceous clematis : C. integrifolia etc ., should be pruned to 6 inches above ground level in the autumn.

After pruning feed plants with a mixture of garden compost and Bonemeal, Fish and Bone mix.

Selecting Clematis


Deciding on a Variety

Once you have made the decision to buy a Clematis, the next step is to choose which particular variety you would like. Fortunately there are a wealth of options, that provide something suitable for every gardener’s needs. The process of deciding on your variety should be enjoyable; however, it can sometimes appear daunting. Here are some tips to help you differentiate between the many hundreds of varieties, and chose the plant that is right for you. The main question to consider before making this decision, is “where will the plant be positioned?”. This question can be sub-divided into a number of further questions that are explored below. The answers to these questions will determine, for a large part, which variety you should choose.


Which direction will the plant be facing?

The aspect of your chosen position is important to take into account when making your selection.

- Most varieties of clematis are most at home in conditions of part sun / part shade. Click on “Aspect” in the menu in the top left of the page for listings of plants categorized into shade, sun/shade, sun.

- Be aware that in very shady positions, deep, dark, colours (blues and purples) will not show up well. In this situation it is advisable to chose a lighter, brighter colour of pink or white.

- North facing aspects are generally more exposed to the elements, and a careful selection is required.

- A south facing aspect will be in full view of the sun for a large part of the day. Bear in mind that some of the paler flowered varieties will lose their colour (or bleach out) when grown in these conditions.

- Also note that Clematis require a cool root system, and that if the plant is grown in full sun, it is advisable to provide some shade for the roots, possibly from another plant, wall, or fence.


Is the plant required to grow up to a certain height, or to cover something specific?

As the name suggests, climbing plants are keen to grow up rather than out. This fact distinguishes climbing plants from most other common garden plants. It means that they can be used to cover areas of the garden that would otherwise be empty. To fully take advantage of these upward growing tendencies, it is important to take note of the following points.

- Although all climbing plants have a preference for growing upwards, not all will grow to the same height. Most of the Large Flowered Hybrids will grow to a moderate height of approximately 10ft, which is adequate for most purposes.

- If however, you require, an entire wall of a house to be covered, growing a montana, or other similar height plants would be a better bet. Montanas, capable of growing up to thirty or forty ft, are also excellent when used as a screen (see below).

- Conversely, if it is important that the plant remains relatively short, the integrifolia types are an ideal choice.


Will the plant be used as a screen for something ugly? .e.g. an old garden shed.

- As mentioned above, montanas are perfect for covering large supports such as pergolas or walls. In addition to being very tall, they are fast growing , and have bushy folige that works well as a screen.

- For smaller areas, other climbers such as large flowered hybrids will also do an excellent job of concealing walls or sheds. In summer the profusion of flowers and great wash of colour will add beauty to the spot.

- Evergreen climbers (such as armandii and cirrhosa) are also an option, but be aware that they often require a spot that is not too exposed. For more exposed positions it is recommended that you choose an alpina or macropetala. These types are also good if the area you want covered is small, and you don’t wish it to become overrun by the plant (which can be the case with montanas)


What are the colours of the surrounding plants or walls?

- If the plant is to be grown up against a wall, think about whether the colours of the plant and the wall will complement each other. It is surprising how much difference this can make to the overall effect. For example the deep carmine coloured flowers of Montana Freda grown against a red brick wall may not mix well, while the same plant against a cream coloured background, may look fantastic. Other combinations that should be avoided are very light coloured flowers, such a pink or light blue, against a black or very dark coloured wall.

- “Companion planting” is an often neglected possibility when growing clematis. Clematis can be do not have to be grown alone, but on the contrary, can produce some of their most spectacular effects when mix with other garden plants. If you decide to do this, keep in mind the colour, and flowering time of the companion plants.

When should Clematis be planted?


Strong, healthy Clematis may be planted at any time of year, provided the ground is not frozen solid, which will hinder the planting of any type of plant.

- The idea times to plant are late winter to mid-spring, and early to mid-winter. During late winter to spring the soil will be moist, and warming up as the days get longer. Planting at this time allows the plant to establish before the heat of the summer arrives.

- Having said that planting in the summer time is of course possible. In this case it is important to realise that as well as the sun baking the ground, warm winds will also dry the foliage. Therefore be prepared to frequently water they plant as it establishes itself.

- Early to mid autumn also provides a convenient planting window, as the soil is again moist and manageable. Planting at this time will allow the plant to establish itself before the worst of the winter arrives.

Growing support for climbing plants


Clematis have a natural tendency to grow upwards. However, they can only do this if they have something solid and sturdy to grow up. Climbing plants have developed a number of ingenious ways to cling to nearby structures. These include twining leaf stalks, twining tendrils, climbing stems, aerial roots, and adhesive pads. The following sections describe effective methods for constructing supports suitable for all types of climbing plants


Growing climbing plants up a brick wall

- Vine eyes (a large metal screw with a circular ending) are a convenient and practical way to fix long lasting support to a wall, and are strong enough to hold up the weight of a fully developed plant. Vine eyes must first be driven or screwed directly into brickwork, mortar, or masonry, before the wire lattice can be threaded between them and pulled taut. It is a good idea to plan out where the plant will be trained early on, and construct the support at this stage.

- When training a plant it is necessary to tie the growing stems to the wire support. “Tying in” as it is referred to, can be accomplished using a variety of materials including string, metal wire, and paper covered twist ties. The former being the most convenient when training a new plant because delicate stems can be gently held in place and easily removed if necessary.

- It is important to regularly check that any ties you used are not too tight. As the plant develops its stems with thicken, and ties that are too tight may cut into the stems and restrict growth.


Other forms of support

- Screens and Pergolas are often built to disguise some feature of the garden , such as storage areas or compost bins. They can be excellent ways to display your clematis, and providing that the site is not too exposed to the wind and rain, many different varieties can be grown. If the screen is in an exposed area, be careful to chose a hardy variety that will survive. Wood is an obvious and sensible choice for the material of the screen – note that if you are constructing the screen yourself it is a good idea to treat the bottom part of the structure (which will be in the ground) with wood preservative, to prevent rotting.

- Arches also provide an ideal setting for growing climbing plants. Because of the practical uses of an arch , it may be wise to avoid rampant growing plants that will bury the arch I foliage, and give any who pass under, a rather more difficult experience than is necessary! Additionally archways are perfect locations for growing scented clematis, as you will have the opportunity to enjoy the fragrance more frequently as you pass by.

- Festoons, Obelisks, Poles, and Pillars will all provide welcome structure to any garden. Festoons consist of a row of large wooden poles (6-8ft) spaced at regular intervals of roughly 8ft. The poles are then linked using rope wire or chain which is usually aloud to hand slightly slack. Clematis can then be trained to grow up the poles and then out along the connections between the poles, forming attractive looking garlands. For smaller garden spaces with a lack of available fences or wall, obelisks pillars or poles are ideal. Traditionally obelisks consist of metal poles that have been welded together, and treated to prevent rusting. They will usually have a large diameter base, in which the plant will be placed, and a narrow top portion where the poles meet. Obelisks are available in various different designs, from simple to elaborate, so it is worth having a look around to find something that suits you taste. Many garden centers stock obelisks in the standard design, with heights of between 3ft and 6ft.

Growing Wisteria


Wisteria are vigorous climbers but vigilant pruning will keep them under control and encourage plentiful flowering. After watering and feeding for the first year or two wisteria become largely self-sufficient, due too nitrogen fixing, in reasonably moist soils. However if conditions are harsh or plants are grown in a container, then watering and feeding will be necessary. Once established, over feeding may cause excessive growth and limit flowering. For best flowering the plant should be grown in full sun and pruned as described below. Lateral stems can be tied horizontally to display the racemes of flowers to the best effect. The training and pruning of wisteria takes place in the early years and on maturity the production of new shoots lessens. Old wood can be cut back with no fear of killing the plant.

Pruning Wisteria

First prune in late spring, after flowering. This is a good time to make any major thinning and/or reshaping. If no thinning or shaping is required, then new shoots should be cut back to 2 or 3 leaf nodes. In early autumn the new shoots that have appeared in the summer should be cut back to 2 leaf nodes. Once the leaves have fallen, the abundant short lateral shoots will have lots of dormant flower buds.


Growing in containers


Evergreens for containers , only Cartmanii Joe and Early Sensation. They are free flowering but over a relatively short period.

Alpina and macropetala types can be grown successfully in containers and flower early but again only for about 1 month. If space is available these could be parked in a growing area until in flower when they can be moved to the desired spot. They also have attractive seed heads and occasional summer flowers.

Montana types can be grown for 3 or 4 years but then because of there vigour will need to be planted out in the garden or have the roots trimmed by an inch all round including bottom.

Many early large-flowered cultivars have an extended flowering period. Although they can all be grown in containers some produce more flowers over a longer period than others. The new compact clematis from Raymond Evison are ideal for containers as each stem will not only, as in older cultivars, flower at its end but also have up to six flowers back down the stem. These plants will start flowering in late spring and continue into the summer. New growth is produced from soil level creating a second or third flush of flowers. Evisons new varieties flower both on last years wood and the current seasons growth.
The best of these are Clematis Cezanne ‘Evipo023’, pale blue with yellow centre; C parisienne ‘Evipo019’, blue with red centre; C Angelique ‘Evipo017’, pale blue with light brown centre; and C Chantilly ‘Evipo021’, pale creamy pink with cream centre.
C. Picardy, with rich reddish flowers, flowers slightly later. C Piilu also. All these cultivars grow to about 3-4 feet (1-1.2 m). For a small container, Clematis Bijou ‘Evipo030’, violet mauve, and C.Filigree ‘Evipo029’, silvery blue, are suitable and only grow to about 12 inches.

Good varieties that are double and semi-double include the following:
C. Arctic Queen
C.Franziska Maria, both these produce side stems that continue to flower after the terminal flower has finished. Grow 5-6 ft
C. Josephine which has a very long flowering time, double deep pinkish mauve.
C. Crystal Fountain blue outer sepals surround a mass of bluish white petaloid stamens.
C. Empress exotic mauve flowers
C. Daniel Deronda double in spring and single in summer on new wood. These are deep purplish blue with creamy yellow anthers.
C. Mrs George Jackman medium sized ceamy white flowers with light brown centre. These are double and single in the spring and single in the summer.
C Denny’s White a double white
C. Louise Rowe
C. Royalty
C. Veronica’s Choice Pale flowered double then single later in the season. Have crimpled edges.

Single flowered cultivars
C. Anna Loiuse Violet flowers with reddisd purple central bar and reddish brown anthers.
C. Dawn
C. Dr Rupple Free flowering and dramatic deep rose pink sepals
C. Fujimusume sky blue
C. Guernsey Cream Cream coloured flowers need sun
C. HF Young Rounded blue compact flowers in spring
C. Lady Northcliffe Wedgewood-blue flowersin early summer
C. Miss Bateman Early flowering white with dark red centre.
C. Mrs Thompson Bluish purple with deep petunia bar
C Nelly Moser Age-old favourite
C. Niobe Deep red yellow anthers
C. Fleuri Velvet purple sepals and dark red centre
C. Silver Moon Silvery mauve
C. Clair de Lune Silvery blue
C. Ice Blue Off-white suffused with pale blue
C. Kingfisher Blue yellow creamy centres. Free flowering
C. Rosemoor Free flowering deep-red with yellow anthers.

Later flowering cultivars
Not many of these make good container plants.
Clematis Madame Edouard Ande Dusky red flowers are cup shaped
C. Rhapsody Sapphire blue darkening with age
C. Bonanza Mauve blue flowers early summer to late summer.

Small flowered clematis
Clematis Arabella Rosy purple flowers for 3 months
C. Gazelle White
C. Chinook Purple blue

Florida group make exceptional container plants.
C. florida Siebaldiana
C. Cassis
C. florida alba plena

The midsummer large-flowered cultivars flower on the current seasons growth so making the stems too long for normal container growng.
Only a small number of the viticella , texensis , late flowering species and there cultivars and herbaceous clematis are suitable for containers because of there vigour.

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