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How to Grow Clematis

July 10, 2023
Written by The Eising Team

Clematis, the climbing plant that looks far too elegant and exotic to be growing in Ontario! Not only beautiful, Clematis gets along well with climbing roses (this is a gorgeous combination), trees, shrubs, and perennials. Different varieties of Clematis can also be grown together and provide a succession of blooms!

The variety of shapes, sizes, and colours available make Clematis a very desirable plant. Ranging from delicate, white, bell-shaped blossoms to dreamy, pastel rosettes, or sumptuous, deep purple double-flowers, and everything in between.

A stroll through the garden centre is a must to peruse Clematis labels and choose the ones that are most appealing to you. The varieties that we have will all suit our southern Ontario climate. 

While the blooms vary widely, planting Clematis is straightforward. A few simple considerations when planting will help avoid root stress or Clematis Wilt, which are common problems when the location is wrong and the soil isn’t enriched. Here are some simple steps to ensure success!

Location, location, location!

Clematis like at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, but not an excessively hot location. Some shade in the late afternoon will extend the length of time that a bloom looks good.

Provide Support

A trellis, archway, arbor, or even a shrub or tree, all make excellent supports for your clematis. Install a well-secured support system first, to avoid damaging your clematis roots.

Soil is the Key

Fertile, well-drained soil is essential to successfully growing Clematis. These vines are heavy feeders and require nutrients to produce their show-stopping flowers. Prepare your soil by mixing in plenty of compost or well-rotted manure.

Prepare the Planting Site

Dig a hole that’s as deep as it is wide. Use the plant as your guide and dig approximately 13 cm or 5 inches deeper than the root ball. Add some of the soil that’s been amended with compost, then check to see that your plant is sitting at the right height - the top of the root ball should be even with the soil around it. Once the root ball is sitting at the right height, backfill the rest of the hole with more amended soil and gently firm the soil around the plant with your hands.

Watering

Water deeply after planting, and keep the soil and root ball moist, not water-logged, throughout the season. Be sure to water at soil level, not with an overhead sprinkler which can scorch leaves and flowers.

Mulch

Mulch the soil around your plant to help suppress weeds and maintain moisture. Compost, organic shredded bark, or straw works well.

Fertilizer

Fertilize regularly throughout the season, or apply a slow-release fertilizer at the beginning of the season to maximize the blooming potential of your Clematis. For more information about fertilizer, see this article about caring for annuals and perennials.

Pruning

Pruning instructions are often included on your plant label as requirements vary from variety to variety. If in doubt, there are many growers who recommend pruning early blooming Clematis a little, after they bloom, to maintain the desired shape of the plant. For later blooming types, cut the vines right back to 45-60 cm in early spring.

Following these steps will provide a healthy environment for your Clematis to thrive. But be careful, Clematis are like potato chips - bet you can’t have just one!

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