Clematis - How to care for and grow your Clematis plant



There Clematis it is a splendid climbing plant much appreciated for its rich and very decorative blooms and for its even more attractive fruit. All this makes these plants ideal for enriching both large and small gardens or to give grace, if placed in pots, to a terrace.






: Angiosperms


: Eudicotyledons











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genre Clematis, family Ranuncolaceae, it is a vast genus of plants cultivated for their splendid flowers which are followed by very decorative, filamentous and silvery white fruits (capsules). Since the genus includes over 200 species there is a great variability. In fact, we find evergreen plants, others deciduous, semi-woody or woody or less frequently herbaceous with a woody base. Flowers too they are very different from each other depending on the species with a very large range of colors and shapes, single or gathered in panicle inflorescences or at the top of the stem but almost all with showy stamens in the center of the flower.

Fruits of Clematis vitalba

The posture and shape of the leaves are also very varied. In fact, we find low-growing herbaceous perennials, hanging and climbing shrubs that reach heights of up to 10-15m. The leaves can be opposite, or alternate, with or without fluff, pinnate or bipinnate with entire or irregular margins, in short ... there is a choice!

The climbing species they adhere to the support through the foliar petioles and are particularly suitable for covering walls, trellises or even pergolas giving a truly captivating decorative effect. Conversely, herbaceous species can be used for borders.

They are all cosmopolitan plants enough to find them from Asia to America, including Europe, up to Australia.

All this makes these plants ideal for enriching both large and small gardens or to give grace, if placed in pots, to a terrace.


There are more than 200 species in the genus Clematis. Given the large number of species, botanists have divided them into three large groups, different for some cultivation techniques, such as pruning to which it refers. The groups are as follows:

GROUP 1 early flowering species: flowers bloom in winter or early spring on the branches of the previous year. They are plants that like sheltered places in full sun and well-draining soils. They are rustic evergreen plants and some deciduous.

GROUP 2 large-flowered early or mid-season cultivar: the flowers bloom in late spring and early autumn they bloom in spring on the branches of the previous year and in autumn on the branches developed after the first flowering. They are all deciduous plants, quite rustic and the frosts are harmful to the vegetative apexes.

GROUP 3 large and late flowered cultivar: the flowers bloom in summer and early autumn on the vegetation of the year. They are all deciduous plants. They are all rustic plants.


There Clematis viticella or Clematis alba (photo below), is native to southern Italy and is characterized by a woody trunk with very long leaves (about 10 - 12 cm).

The flowers are located at the top of a peduncle about 10 cm long with a diameter of about 4 cm and colors ranging from red to blue. The flowers bloom on the vegetation of the year in summer - early autumn therefore in order to have plants to bloom they must be pruned every year at the end of winter to encourage the growth of new branches (see paragraph Pruning).


There Clematis alpina (photo below) is a plant that grows wild in Italy. It is an early flowering climber in fact flowering starting from spring / early summer.

The flowers are single and bell-shaped, 4-7 cm wide, of a beautiful blue-violet color with a white center, carried by long peduncles.


The species Clematis macropetala (photo below) is native to China and is characterized by stems with very large knots. The blue flowers are bell-shaped and with many aborted stamens. The cultivar can be found on the market Markhamii with pink flowers.


Lto Clematis cupboards (photo below) is an early flowering evergreen climbing plant.

The flowers are white with cream-colored anthers, saucer-shaped up to 5 cm long and fragrant.


Lto Clematis texensis (photo below) is a climbing plant that blooms in summer and early autumn.

The solitary flowers up to 2.5 cm wide, are orange-red in color with very large sepals.


There Clematis vitalba (photo below) is a plant that climbs trees like a liana tangling around the stem and branches producing a dense jungle of white flowers that can also be eaten and made into delicious omelettes. It is a poisonous plant due to the presence of alkaloids and saponins that accumulate especially in the older parts of the plant causing skin irritation upon contact. You should therefore be careful if you decide to use it. Furthermore, it is considered a weed so much that its presence is an indication of environmental degradation.

It is a deciduous species, which means that it sheds its leaves during the bad season. The flowers are formed by 4-5 tepals in the shape of a cup or an urn.

The ancient Romans loved this plant very much especially because they were convinced that it kept lightning away. For this reason it was almost always present in the walls of their houses. The English call it "the joy of the traveler" because it was easy to meet along the paths in autumn and spring. It is also said that in ancient times beggars used the branches of this Clematis to scourge oneself so as to procure wounds to pity people.

In New Zealand it was declared unwanted organism "Unwelcome organism" and cannot be propagated, distributed or sold as it is considered a threat to native species.

It is indicated as a remedy in Bach Flowers for dreaming people, detached from reality who live in a world of fantasy.

There Clematis it is not a difficult plant to grow moreover, by choosing the appropriate species, it is possible to have flowering plants almost all year round.

The only important precaution to be successful in the cultivation of this plant is to carry out a correct planting and find the right exposure.

Remember that the Clematis they are mostly climbing plants therefore it is necessary to provide it with a support in which to lean which can be an iron or wooden trellis, a wall, a wire mesh, a tree ... in short, as long as it is healthy and allows good air circulation, everything is fine.


There Clematis they must receive at least a few hours of sunshine a day. The position in the shade results in the non-production of flowers. Anyhow the best location is where the plant can have its base in the shade and the crown in the sun. In this way the root system remains fresh and the plant can best express its beauty.


The Clematis, considering that most species lose their leaves during the bad season, they do not fear the cold and tolerate it quite well.


There Clematis it should be watered regularly and the soil must always remain slightly moist (not soaked). Therefore water regularly and generously.


Planting a clematis is a delicate operation which must be done carefully because if not done correctly, the plant could suffer and therefore have less luxuriant and little flowering plants.

They need fertile, soft, neutral to alkaline soil. They do not like acid soils even if they can adapt (but better to avoid). It is important that the soil allows good water drainage because they do not like water stagnation.

If grown in pots to be kept on the terrace, the Clematis they must be repotted every two years with their earthen bread and not brought back to bare root. Keep in mind that, and since it is an important plant in terms of habit, it is necessary to use a tall pot from 35 to 50 cm in height and preferably earthenware as it favors the circulation of air and the evaporation of any excess water (as opposed to plastic). Also place a good layer of expanded clay on the bottom of the pot (at least 2 cm). This will prevent the roots from soaking if the water stagnates in the saucer; or keep the pot raised in the saucer with shims. Finally add a layer of leaf mulch or pumice on top of the soil which will keep the soil cool and prevent it from drying out too quickly.

If you grow in the open ground they need a hole about 60 cm wide and about 50 cm deep, with a brace on which to lean on and which protects it from the wind. It is advisable to put in the bottom of the hole a good organic fertilizer such as manure and also a specific product for root rot that you will easily find from a good nurseryman. Add coarse sand which favors better aeration of the soil.

It is advisable not to plant them too close to a wall or a tree (at least 40 cm away) but leave enough space for good air circulation.

Remember, when you plant it, to shade the basal part of the plant (while the crown must remain in the sun) for example with other seedlings that have a minimum height of 40-50 cm, with a compact habit and that do not develop a root system that is too important because it could compete with that of the Clematis or with stones or other inert material in order to keep the basal part of the stem and the roots cool.


If we want to have beautiful blooms it is advisable to fertilize them Clematis regularly. In autumn, manure can be distributed at the base of the plant and then starting from spring, when the plant starts to grow again, fertilize every two weeks using a liquid fertilizer diluted in the watering water.

They are greedy for calcium and phosphorus and suffer from their deficiency. Therefore when you go to buy a fertilizer make sure that they are complete fertilizers that is that in addition to having nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) they also have microelements such as magnesium (Mg), manganese (Mn), iron ( Fe), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo), zinc (Zn), boron (B), all important for the growth of this plant.

During the other periods the fertilizations must be suspended.


The flowering periods are variable depending on the species therefore refer to the paragraph Main species.


Pruning of Clematis it is a very important operation. If not done correctly, it could affect flowering.

Given that the species, cultivars and hybrids of clematis are very numerous and have different development and blooms at different times of the year, some blooming on the branches of the year while others on the branches of the previous year, for convenience the botanists have divided the different species in 3 groups to indicate the appropriate periods in which to carry out the pruning.

Group 1 clematis (early flowering species, which bloom in early spring on the branches of the previous year, producing small but very numerous flowers) after flowering dry and damaged stems must be removed and the others shortened as far as possible. Such an important pruning will favor the emergence of new vegetation in the following season.
After a few years, if the plant becomes exuberant, a more drastic pruning can be done to favor the birth of new stems and have a more tidy plant.
We find in this group: all the evergreens, Clematis armandii,Clematis alpine, Clematis macropetala, Clematis Montana is Clematis cirrosa.

Group 2 clematis (hybrids and new generation cultivars with early or mid-season large flowers) are mostly remontant, i.e. they bloom in spring on the branches of the previous year and in autumn on the branches developed after the first flowering. First, all withered or damaged stems must be eliminated before the vegetative period begins, while as soon as the plant begins to vegetate, the other stems must be shortened to where there are robust buds. We will proceed in the same way with the second flowering. This pruning will favor the emission of new branches and the birth of larger flowers.
In this group we find the species: Clematis x cartmanii 'Joe', Clematis 'Asao', Clematis 'Barbara Dibley', Clematis 'Crown', Clematis Florida and other.

For the Clematis of GROUP 3 (late flowering cultivar that bloom in summer and early autumn) it is necessary to prune in early spring before the plant resumes its activity by eliminating the old stems and leaving only a couple of vigorous buds 15-20 cm from the ground as they bloom only on the branches of the year.
We find in this group: Clematis viticella, Clematis jackmanii, Clematis texensis, Clematis tangutica, Clematis crispa, Clematis flammula, Clematis integrifolia, Clematis recta, Clematis stans, Clematis terniflora and all herbaceous clematis.


The Clematis they can be multiplied by seed, by cuttings or by offshoots.

When choosing the technique to adopt, keep in mind that multiplication by seed has the disadvantage that, almost certainly, you will not get seedlings equal to the mother plant as genetic variability takes over. Therefore, if you want to obtain a precise specimen or you are not sure of the quality of the seed, it is good to do the multiplication by cutting.

As for SEED MULTIPLICATION, it is carried out in March by distributing the seeds in small 2/3 cm seed pots and kept in the shade, in a warm place at about 15-20 ° C and keeping the soil constantly humid (use a sprayer to moisten the soil) until the moment of germination.It would be advisable to cover the jars with transparent plastic or a glass plate in order to guarantee a good temperature and prevent the soil from drying out too quickly.

When the seeds have germinated, the plastic sheet is removed and as the seedlings grow, the amount of light is increased (never direct sun) and good ventilation is ensured. Eliminate the less vigorous plants.

When they have reached a height of about 18/20 cm and will therefore be large enough to be handled, they should be repotted in larger jars to be finally planted in October.


The cuttings can be taken from the top of the semi-mature branches 10-15 cm long with two buds at the base. The best time is the month of July by planting the cuttings in a mixture of peat and coarse sand by making a hole with a pencil and planting them at a depth of about 1.5-2 cm.

Cut them obliquely (it allows you to have a greater surface for rooting and avoids the accumulation of water on its surface) immediately under the node, eliminating the leaves located further down.

Use a sharp blade or knife to prevent the fabrics from fraying, clean and disinfect (preferably with a flame or with alcohol or bleach) to avoid infecting fabrics and disinfect it at each cut.

Keep the soil constantly moist until the moment of rooting. After they have taken root, they are planted in 7/8 cm diameter containers and left to develop.

They are repotted again in spring by transplanting them into pots of 12/14 cm in diameter and finally planted permanently in the month of October.


TheClematis they can also multiply by offshoot in March: a branch is bent, leaving it attached to the mother plant so as to bury only the folded part, after having cut the tissues in the point where they are buried. mother plant.


Among the diseases that can affect the Clematis remember:

Brown spots on the leaves

This disease is due to the attack of a fungus Phoma clematis, which mainly affects large-flowered varieties while small-flowered species appear to be much more resilient.

If the infection starts from the leaves, the initial symptoms of the disease are evident with brown spots that spread rapidly, causing the leaf to dry out. After that the fungus continues with the infection spreading along the stem and stem. where there is excessive soil moisture. Infection can also start directly from the stem that turns black at ground level. This last infestation is very serious because it destroys the internal tissues of the plant causing conspicuous decolations of the tissues which ultimately lead to the death of the plant. It has also recently been found that the fungus can directly infect roots by causing root rot.

The fungus causes rapid wilting and, in severe cases, can kill the entire plant

Note 1

The remedies are first of all preventive as there are no chemical remedies that produce good results:

  • create a suitable root environment through deep cultivation and mulching, to minimize stress on the roots;
  • if infection is suspected, cut all the withered stems down to the healthy tissue (the non-stained one) taking away the material and burning it to avoid contaminating the soil;
  • always disinfect pruning tools to prevent the spread of spores and avoid transferring the disease to other places and other plants;
  • use resistant cultivars such as: Clematis 'Avant Garde', C. alpina,C. montana, C. orientalis, C. viticella (which is tolerant rather than resistant), C. integrifolia, C. macropetala, C. tangutica.

If caught in time, the plant can be saved. If the attack starts from the roots or from the basal part of the plant, it is difficult for the plant to be saved.

Presence of small insects on all green parts

Aphids or as they are more commonly called lice can infest these plants. They can be of different color depending on the species, but almost always light colors from yellow to green to white.

Remedies: treat with specific pesticides that you can easily find from a good nurseryman.

Presence of small insects similar to small white butterflies

These small insects are whiteflies, known as white flies. To understand if it is about them just shake the plant and you will see it rise like a cloud. They are found mainly concentrated on the underside of the leaves. The damages are caused by the subtraction of the lymph, having a stinging-sucking mouth apparatus and by the punctures they make in the tissues for the deposition of the eggs. They also produce honeydew (their droppings which are sugary and sticky) which can cause smoke and can transmit virosis.

Remedies: treat with specific pesticides.

To combat all the insects mentioned above, it is recommended to use systemic products, i.e. they enter the lymphatic circulation of the plant and are therefore absorbed by insects during feeding.

White mold on the leaves with a powdery appearance with a typical mushroom odor

This symptom indicates that we are in the presence ofbad white that is to say of a fungus, very harmful favored by high humidity and high temperatures. First, isolated whitish spots are formed which gradually merge forming larger spots that necrotize starting from the central part. This leads to a curling of the leaves along the midrib and to the death of the leaf.

Remedies: it is necessary to increase the ventilation (avoiding creating drafts) and let the plant dry. Then treat with specific fungicides.


The name Clematis comes from the Latin klema "Tendril" derived from the fact that this plant wraps itself around the support it finds as if it had tendrils. In reality, a slender herbaceous twig is born from the stem which, as soon as it touches another body, wraps itself making several turns around it. On the other hand, the part that does not twist forms coils that take place partly in one direction and partly in the other direction.

The mushroom Phoma clematis (see paragraph Parasites and diseases) is used as a biological agent to control Clematis vitalba in New Zealand considered a pest as it reduces light levels and smothers the crowns of trees with its prolific foliage.


In the language of flowers the Clematis it means fiction and untruth.

1. Image taken from the RHS website, inspiring everyone to grow

Video: How to Grow and Care for Clematis - Step-By-Step Gardening

Previous Article

Stenocereus beneckei f. inermis

Next Article

Prairie Garden Design: Tips For Creating A Prairie Style Garden