Every gardener should have the pleasure of having at least one Clematis vine in their yard! If you get the right mix of Clematis vines you can have blooms from May through September. Did you know that there are more than 250 species of Clematis vine? Depending upon the variety, the vines can grow from 6 to 30 feet in a season. Some types are evergreen and some lose their leaves in the winter. Others will even bloom twice in the same season. What this means is that there is likely to be at least one that fits your style and will help your garden “reach for the sky.”

Planting Clematis

Types of Soil

Clematis does have a reputation for being a little finicky. Their preference is for a location that gets full sun while their roots prefer cooler soil conditions.  With a good layer of mulch, Clematis can even be successfully cultivated in very hot and dry conditions. If your yard doesn’t have full sun conditions you can still find varieties that are a little more shade-tolerant such as Henryi and Nellie Moser. The vine should be planted in soil that drains well, is rich and when planting a new vine a generous amount of compost is recommended.

Types of Clematis

Clematis are typically categorized based on their pruning requirements. They are either referred to as Group 1, 2, 3 or Group A, B, and C:

  • Group 1 or Group A-These are early blooming Clematis whose flowers appear in late winter or early spring. These early blooming varieties don’t really require pruning as they flower on older growth. Any Grooming should be done immediately after they’ve flowered with an eye towards removing dead or tangled growth and to maintain an attractive shape. Clematis Montana is a variety that falls into this category.
  • Group 2 or Group B-These are Clematis with large flowers whose blossoms appear in late spring to early summer. Clematis in this group often re-bloom later in the summer or early in the fall. Pruning vines in this group can be the most challenging of the 3 groups. Once the leaves and buds appear the vine can be lightly pruned to remove dead or damaged stems. Too much pruning early in the season will reduce flower production. Once the first blooming cycle is finished a more severe pruning can be done to encourage a second batch of flowers later in the growing season as well as to shape the vine. Clematis Nelly Moser and Jackmanii are varieties that are in this group.
  • Group 3 or Group C-Late-blooming Clematis such as Princess Diana and Sweet Autumn fall into this category. This is the easiest group to work with as late in the winter they are pruned back to about 12 inches above the ground.

Care of Clematis

Watering Clematis

Clematis need regular watering. Always water thoroughly and deeply, particularly in the summer months. Clematis don’t do well in soil that is too wet so make sure the spot you are planting in drains well. You will also want to avoid watering the leaves as this can lead to diseases and fungus.

Fertilizing Clematis

Clematis are heavy feeders. In the spring, once the flower buds are setting, start feeding with a 5-10-5 fertilizer. Keep fertilizing every 4 to 6 weeks until early September.  

Next week, we will give you some other tips on clematis and some of our favorite clematis plants. 

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