Clematis is such a versatile plant and can be grown in containers, borders and even trained up walls. You should now be thinking about planting clematis in early autumn, for flowers next winter and late summer. Autumn is the perfect time for planting clematis as the weather is cooler and the soil is moist meaning roots will be well established in time for spring. This results in bigger and better displays for next year and also means you will save on watering! They are easy to grow and to look after.
How to plant clematis
Clematis thrives in a well drained and fertile soil in full sun or partial shade. It is beneficial to place a mulch around the base of your plant with pebbles. Incorporating some well rotted manure or compost into the soil before planting will help aid fertility and improve drainage.
Plant large-flowered clematis varieties such as Clematis ‘Top to Bottom’ with the tops of their root balls about 5cm (2″) below the soil surface. This will help the plant recover if it ever suffers from damage or diseases such as clematis wilt.
Water your plant regularly during spells of dry weather, especially in the first few seasons after planting.
How to prune clematis
Clematis plants are often categorised in groups according to their pruning requirements. The correct time for pruning depends upon the type of flowering wood that the plant produces. Knowing when to prune clematis will ensure you get the best flowering possible.
Clematis Pruning Group 1 – Early flowering clematis
Group 1 includes winter flowering clematis that bloom in winter and spring on the previous year’s growth. These early flowering clematis varieties include, napaulensis, montana and their cultivars. This group also includes evergreen clematis such as armandii.
Start pruning clematis from group 1 immediately after flowering. Remove any damaged or dead stems and reduce the remaining growth to fit the available space.
Clematis Pruning Group 2 – Large flowered clematis
The large flowered cultivars in group 2 bear flowers on new shoots that emanate from the previous year’s stems in late spring and summer. Some cultivars will produce a second flush at the tips of the current year’s growth in late summer and autumn.
Prune group 2 in spring before they start into active growth, and again in early summer after the first flush of flowers. In early spring, remove any damaged, dead or weak stems, cutting back to a pair of healthy buds. Avoid heavy pruning at this stage as you may reduce the early flowers.
In early summer, after the first flush of flowers has finished, prune back flowered stems to a set of strong healthy buds or a side shoot just below the faded blooms. This encourages healthy new growth. This is also the time to prune overgrown plants to reduce their size. Reduce overgrown plants gradually over several years.
Pruning Group 3 – Late flowering clematis
Group 3 contains the late flowering species and their cultivars that bloom from summer to late autumn on the current years stems. This group also contains the herbaceous clematis species.
Group 3 are arguably the easiest to prune. These plants can simply be cut back to a pair of strong buds about 20cm (8”) above ground level, removing all of the previous year’s growth. Prune group 3 in spring before they start into active growth.
Terri works in the e-commerce marketing department assisting the busy web team. Terri manages our blog and social media pages here at Thompson & Morgan and is dedicated to providing useful advice to our gardeners. Terri is new to gardening and keen to develop her horticultural knowledge.