Clematis Flowers and Plants: Vining Showpieces In The Garden

Why are the clematis hybrids seen in comparatively few gardens today? These flowering vines are considered a little difficult, but with simple “know-how” they can be enjoyed easily by most gardeners. 

As an amateur, I have grown these attractive vines until my garden is like “fairy-land” from late spring through early summer.

Maroon Clematis flowersPin

Styling Your Clematis Plants

Some Clematis varieties are ideally suited for cedar posts or similar support. More rampant forms need an arbor or trellis to accommodate their growth adequately. 

Posts can back behind an annual or perennial border to provide distinctive accents. 

For the ranch-type houses, use these showy vines on the porch pillars to an advantage. Work out effective color schemes to suit your taste.

Since early and late varieties are available, a dozen vines will provide a long flowering period.

There are large-flowering hybrids with individual flowers measuring eight inches across and small flowering kinds with hundreds of tiny flowers that smother the vines. 

Colors range from bright red and blue through the pastel shades of red and purple to clear yellow. The whites are gorgeous. Potted clematis plants are available from nurseries from spring till fall.

Where Should My Plants Go?

A new idea for window-sill gardeners is to buy potted clematis plants in the late fall for winter forcing indoors. Placed in a sunny south window, plants grow rapidly and bloom until spring with little care. 

Train the new growth to climb on a cord or use wire supports.

Planting Instructions For Your Clematis 

The following planting instructions have given excellent results: 

  • Dig a generous hole for the new plants, 18” inches wide and 18” inches deep. 
  • In the bottom place a few small stones or old broken bricks for drainage. 
  • Fill the hole with good garden loam and compost
  • Add a cup of lime, and a handful of bonemeal
  • Mix well before planting

Add Support For Your Clematis Vines

The next step is to insert cedar posts or other forms of support into the ground and plant the vine with the crown (where roots branch) placed two inches below the soil. 

Tie branches at once to prevent the wind from whipping the young growth. 

Help the plant along until the tendrils become attached. Then it will take care of itself. 

Remember that clematis likes good drainage, a cool root run, and lime. Vines are extremely hardy and vigorous once established.

Optional Planting Technique

Recently I saw a different planting method. 

Make a circle 25” inches around each plant, edged it with bricks laid on edge, and filled it with compost. The compost insured a cool root run during the summer and served as a protective mulch during the winter.

Around this circle, plant the hardy violet Royal Robe. This method has been very successful, giving me more blooms and a longer flowering season.

New plants usually bloom the first year. By the third year, it is not unusual to have 100 large blooms on a single plant.

Related: Growing The Climbing Gloriosa Lily Vine 

Preventing Disease

For all clematis, use fungicide sprays to help prevent wilt disease. 

From June onward, spray once every three weeks. If the weather is humid, apply it once a week. 

If rabbits are a problem, place wire collars around the vines to protect them.

As for my favorites, I particularly like the lavender and mauve, with star-shaped sepals and distinctive white centers. 

There is the small, cream-colored Clematis Florida bicolor, with dainty ivory flowers and vivid purple crested centers. Blooms are most attractive when arranged in a silver bowl.

Plum-Red Blossoms

Early Large-Flowered clematis with plum-red blossoms, is an outstanding asset to any garden, for it is a good grower and a free bloomer. 

Deep blue flowers and showy white stamens or Clematis lanuginosa, with large white flowers, are excellent for cutting.

Clematis texensis has small urn-shaped flowers, reddish rose in color, and fascinating long-haired seed pods. 

Clematis jackmani superba, one of the easiest varieties to grow, covers a large trellis with violet-purple flowers.

Clematis Transplanting

Question: In the spring of 2012 I planted a Clematis jackmani but now find it too close to another plant. Can jackmani be transplanted? – N Larsen (ND)

Answer: Transplanting a nine-year-old clematis involves considerable risk.
The plant should be moved just as spring growth begins, even a little before.

  • Cut the plant back to within a foot of the ground
  • Dig a large ball, taking as many roots as possible
  • Keep all exposed roots covered with moist burlap
  • Plant as soon as possible
  • Before the hole is filled, water the plant with liquid fertilizer
  • Keep the plant well watered throughout the summer
Maroon blooms on a Clematis plant