Clematis care - how to grow, prune and propagate queen vines (2023)

Clematis, also known as the 'Queen of Climbers', are beautiful flowering vines that can add a lot of interest to your garden. Clematis come in various shapes and sizes and are one of the feweternal lifethat won't get out of control and cause extra maintenance in your yard. Having said that, there are a few things you need to do to keep your clematis well-groomed and healthy.

Where to plant clematis (water, sun and soil needs)

Clematis are very versatile plants and if you do your research you will almost certainly be able to adapt a clematis to your own growing conditions. There are over 300 different varieties of clematis to choose from and most grow in zones 4-9 (some even in zones 2-3).

Requirements for Clematis Sun

Clematis prefer sunny places. Most require at least six hours of sun to flower, although some varieties tolerate partial sun (3-6 hours per day). A common saying about clematis is "keep your face in the sun and your feet cool."

Clematis humidity preferences

Clematis prefer an even level of moisture and do not like to dry out. It is best to cool the rootsplant cover soilor shallow-rooted perennials around the base of the clematis. A 2-inch layer of mulch will also help keep the roots cool and moist.

Clematis soil needs

Most clematis prefer neutral or slightly alkaline soils, but there are varieties that tolerate acidic soils (such as 'Jackmanii').

7 tips for choosing the RIGHT plants

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Fertilizers for Clematis Care pears

Fertilize clematis in spring and early summer. It is best to fertilize every two weeks throughout the season to keep it blooming for a long time.

Supporting Clematis vines

The cultivation of clematis vines should be encouraged. However, most varieties do quite well along a trellis, over a gazebo or along a fence.

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pruning clematis

Pruning clematis regularly has several benefits, including better air circulation, better health, and easier maintenance.

But not all clematis are the same. They fall into one of three pruning groups based on flowering time and whether they bloom on "old wood" (last year's growth) or "new wood" (this year's growth). How they are pruned depends on the group they are in.

In general, when deciding how and when to prune clematis, do not remove the developing bud. If you notice buds developing when pruning clematis, you may be pruning at the wrong time.

(Video) Pruning, planting & caring for clematis | Great garden vines | The Impatient Gardener

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Types of clematis / pruning groups

Clematis pruning techniques and timing vary by variety. Clematis fall into one of these three pruning groups.

  • Clematis pruning group 1 (PG1):Ramblers and Early Bloomers. Group 1 Clematis blooms on "old wood" in early spring.
  • Clematis Pruning Group 2 PG2):Large-flowered summer flowers. Group 2 Clematis bloom on "old wood" in late spring and "new wood" in summer/fall.
  • Clematis Pruning Group 3, (PG3):Blooms in late fall/summer. Group 3 Clematis blooms on new wood and blooms in late summer through fall.

Regardless of the pruning group, always prune or cut off diseased or dying parts of the plant during the growing season.

If you plan to grow multiple clematis on the same trellis, it is easier to choose two varieties that belong to the same pruning group.

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Clematis Group 1 Care and pruning

Group 1 clematis blooms mainly on "old wood" (previous season growth). These are typically short, compact varieties and are often used as edging material. They start flowering in early spring with shoots from the previous season and do not die in winter.

Group 1 clematis do not require pruning, but if you are going to do it, do it right after flowering.Prune group 1 clematis only when necessary and sparingly. Clean up dead wood and keep the stems tidy. If you prune group 1 clematis too low or too early in the season, it could cost you next year's flowers.

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Clematis Group 2 Care and pruning

Group 2 Clematis bloom on "old wood" in late spring and early summer, then bloom again in summer or fall on "new wood".

In late winter or very early spring, remove the dead branches of group 2 clematis higher up on the vine. Then, cut off each stem about 6-8″, ending the cut just above the point where it branches (this is also called a "pair of strong buds").

The best thing about group 2 clematis is that it isthe most tolerant pruning group… so they are a great option fornovice gardeners. Even if you make the mistake of pruning too hard, you'll still be able to enjoy the late regrowth that comes with new wood.

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Clematis Group 3 Care and pruning

Group 3 Clematis blooms on "new wood" in summer or fall. In winter, group 3 clematis go dormant and usually die in the ground so that they can produce new shoots each spring.

In late winter, trim all the stems of group 3 clematis to about 12″ of the remaining soil.

Unless your group 3 clematis is dying completely and you are keeping last year's flower stalks on the plant, it will probably not produce new shoots. Which means... no flowers for you next year.

(Video) How to Grow, Train & Prune Clematis//Get MORE🌺🌺FLOWERS Twice in the SAME YEAR!

Pruning annual clematis (groups 1, 2 and 3)

Regardless of which pruning group your clematis belongs to, there are special pruning instructions that must be followed in the first year. If you planted clematis last spring or fall, or if you grew clematis without pruning, give it that first year.

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First year pruning: In late winter or early spring, trim clematis to about 5 inches from the ground, regardless of pruning group.

Pruning in the first year will keep your Clematis more beautiful throughout its (long!) life. Pruning clematis in the first year will result in bushier, stronger and tighter growth, with flowers at the base of the plant instead of starting 4 feet from the ground.

The bad news is that if your clematis is in group 1, it will not bloom this season. And if your clematis belongs to group 2, it will bloom only late. But in the end, the first-year correction is worth it.

Pruning clematis in the second year (groups 1 and 2 only)

if your clematis is in group 1 or 2, you should also do a special pruning in the second year. Pruning in the second year will result in a lush plant, many stems and happy flowering.

Second Year Pruning: In late winter or early spring, prune all stems of group 1 and 2 clematis to about 3 feet off the ground.

Even with pruning this year, you'll still have flowers because anything higher than 5 inches off the ground is old wood. As an added benefit, pruning in the second year will stimulate more buds, resulting in better flowering in subsequent years.

If you're too impatient or just forget, most clematis are very forgiving! You won't hurt or kill clematis if you forget to prune.

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How to propagate Clematis vines

There are several ways to propagate clematis vines for more clematis plants. The easiest way is to take herbaceous cuttings.

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Propagate Clematis by taking Clematis cuttings

Wait until the clematis have finished blooming for this season. This is the perfect time to cut cuttings. Fill small sterilized pots (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) with the moistened potting mix or seeds. Rooting powder is also useful for starting cuttings (I use this from amazon).

Then find a piece of vine that has both old and new wood. Old wood is harder and brown in color, while new wood is usually green and more flexible. You want something in between... a cut that is "ripe" but not too woody or too soft.

Untangle the vine and cut it off the plant, noting which side of the vine is up and which is down (the base). Cut 1″ above the leaf node where the vine leaves come out. Then cut off all the leaves except one.

(Video) Propagate Clematis by taking Clematis Cuttings

Dip the base in the rooting powder, then place it in the potting mix. You can use a dibble or even a pencil to make a hole in the potting mix. This will ensure that you can plant seedlings without removing dust from the roots.

Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag and place it in a warm place, but out of direct sunlight. It can take up to five weeks for clematis cuttings to root.

here is a great videowhich will show you the process.

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Frequently asked questions about clematis care

Are clematis invasive or aggressive?

Sweet Autumn Virginsbower (Clematis terniflora, sometimes included inC. paniculata)is known to be Ainvasive variety of clematis. Native to Asia, it is famous for its sweet, fragrant white flowers in August and September. Unfortunately, autumn clematis is still widely sold in the nursery trade, although it is known to be invasive and can be a prolific volunteer. It can even grow from seeds that are very, very far from their original growth, making them a threat to native habitats in your area.

Other varieties of clematis are easy to care for and will not become aggressive or unruly in the home garden.

Are there any cold hardy clematis for zone 2 or 3?

Yes, try any type of alpine clematis, macropetal or viticella, such as:

  • alpina: "Flamenco rosa", "Jacqueline du Pre", "Pamela Jackman"
  • macropetala: "Blue Bird", "Jan Lindmark", "Joe Zary", "Markgams Pink"
  • witella: „Polish Spirit”, „Betty Corning”, „Etoille Violette”, „Julia Correvon”

Is it necessary to prune clematis?

Do not prune clematis until fall. This allows the plant to use the energy to produce new growth, making it strong enough to survive the winter. Only trim if the plant is too tall or overgrows your space.

Does my clematis need fertilizer?

Yes! Fertilization helps promote healthy growth and flowering. Choose a nitrogen-rich fertilizer such as 10-10-10, 16-16-16, 20-20-20, or even composted manure. Fertilize once in spring and again in late summer.

How to care for flowering clematis?

If you want your clematis to bloom continuously, it's best to fertilize it every two weeks during the season (spring to late summer) to give it the nutrients it needs to keep blooming for a long time. You should also water the clematis regularly and make sure it is cited in the right place for it to thrive.

What if I can't trim clematis?

Group 1 clematis thrive on old wood, so vigorous pruning is discouraged for this type. If you prune old branches, you also prune the buds that will bloom and clematis will not bloom.

Group 2 clematis thrive on new and old wood. So if you don't prune you will still get the first flowers but they will be higher on the vine.

Group 3 clematis thrives on new wood, so if you don't prune last year's flowering shoots, it won't produce buds or flowers for you. Fortunately, many group 3 clematis naturally die in the soil in winter. But if not, you should cut off all old stems in late winter or early spring to about a foot off the ground, just above where the new growing season begins.

Can you cut clematis to the ground?

Many group 3 clematis go dormant and naturally die in the ground during the winter. No matter what group of clematis you have, you can prune them all the way down to the ground. Just know that if you have group 1 or group 2 clematis, it will cost you to bloom the next season. But eventually the plant will recover.

Should you clematis deadhead?

You can remove the clematis to get a nicer looking plant, but it is not necessary. Many clematis hybrids are sterile, meaning flower production is not affected by wilting. Clematis vines will bloom whether you put flowers or not.

(Video) Fertilizer for Clematis


Clematis, or 'Queen of Climbers', are beautifully flowering vines that can add a lot of interest to your garden. You can choose from different varieties that will grow in different soil conditions with different amounts of light. Most clematis prefer moisture, so it is best to plant the roots in the shade, and the faces in the sun.

Vines are a truly magical and important part of your landscape design, but it's just one small piece of the puzzle! Verifythis article on landscape layersto discover all the other types of plants that are worth having in your garden.

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(Video) Plant Clematis Correctly - And Some Common Myths About Planting Clematis Vines


Do you cut back clematis vines in the fall? ›

Varieties that bloom on new wood are best pruned when the plant is dormant—either in the late fall and winter or very early in the spring before new growth has begun.

When should I cut back my clematis? ›

They produce their first flowers on old wood so should be pruned lightly at the end of February or early March. Don't prune them hard or you will lose the early flowering shoots. Remove any dead or weak growth and cut any other stems to the top pair of strong buds, tracing down from the top of the stem.

How long do clematis cuttings take to root? ›

Check plants daily and water as needed: soil should be moist but not damp. Roots should form in 2-4 weeks. Continue growing and move to larger pot as needed. Add to garden by late summer.

Do you put clematis cuttings in water or soil? ›

The roots formed on the clematis tip cutting in water are made to gather nutrients from the water, not the soil. If you put the rooted cutting directly into soil, the cutting cannot absorb the oxygen needed to survive. You must introduce the roots to the soil slowly.

Is it easy to take cuttings from clematis? ›

Clematis can be quite challenging to grow from cuttings, but by following our guide, you can trying growing more climbers for free.

Should clematis be cut down every year? ›

Clematis need to be pruned regularly to prevent them becoming a tangled mass of stems. Without pruning the plant will become bare at the base, with all of the flowers high up on the plant. Regular pruning encourages strong growth and flowering and keeps the plant within bounds.

Can you cut clematis down to the ground? ›

How much you cut depends on your clematis. If it's a vigorous vine that scales the garage walls and scrambles across the roof each summer (think Clematis armandii), then you should probably cut it back almost to the ground. For slow growing Clematis macropetala and C. alpina, you may not need to prune much at all.

How do you prepare clematis for winter? ›

Winter-pruning clematis simply involves cutting back all stems to 30cm above ground. Growth can be quite rapid once the soil starts to warm and day temperatures rise, so keep on top of tying in new shoots.

How do I know what type of clematis I have? ›

Identification Checklist
  1. Clematis can be a woody, deciduous plant, evergreen, or herbaceous.
  2. Check the stems for the leaf formation.
  3. Clematis leaves grow in pairs along the stems. The leaf shapes vary with different varieties.
  4. If the leaves alternate on the stem, it is some other type of vine.
Jun 14, 2020

How long does it take a clematis to start climbing? ›

Your clematis needs at least two to three years to flourish because its complex root system takes time to establish.

What month do you plant clematis? ›

Planting: Plant clematis in spring or fall. You can plant in summer, especially in the North, but you'll have to keep the new transplants well-watered and weeded.

Can you put plant cuttings straight into soil? ›

You can put cuttings straight into soil as long as you have prepared them correctly. 'Cut under a node at the bottom and above a node at the top,' says Chick-Seward. You must also remove the lower leaves, leaving only two or three at the top.

What is the best soil for rooting cuttings? ›

The most common rooting mediums used are coarse sand, vermiculite, a blend of equal parts peat moss and vermiculite, or a blend of equal parts peat moss and perlite. The planting medium should be moistened before inserting cuttings and should be kept moist throughout the rooting and shoot formation process.

Should I soak clematis before planting? ›

Before planting, soak the root ball (in its nursery pot) in a bucket of water for 15 minutes or so. Create a large planting hole that's 18 to 24 inches wide and deep. Loosen and remove the soil, then enrich by mixing in two or three shovelfuls of organic material such as aged compost or mature manure.

How deep to plant clematis root? ›

Plant the clematis root ball 3 to 4 inches deep in well-drained soil that has been amended with lots of organic material, such as compost. After planting it, cut the vine back to one foot tall—this will encourage branching. Offer support to climbing varieties, such as a trellis, fence, post, etc.

How far back do you cut clematis for winter? ›

Every variety, regardless of group, should be cut back to about 5 inches from the ground in late winter/early spring the first year after it is planted.

Should you cut the dead heads off clematis? ›

Removing the dead flowers off clematis offers many benefits, it can encourage new blooms, neaten up the appearance, and help promote new growth. By deadheading clematis and removing dead flowers you can also help to keep the plant healthy.

How many years does a clematis last? ›

Planting- Since Clematis live up to 50 years or more, you should take the time to plant each one carefully.

Can you dig up and replant clematis? ›

A: Clematis can be transplanted, but the best time to do it is in late winter or early spring, just before new growth starts. September or early October is another OK time. Either way, start by preparing the new site at your house.

What do you do with an overgrown clematis? ›

An overgrown vine is a tangled mess, and pruning it is a time consuming job. In early spring, pick a fine day and cut the whole thing down carefully to about waist height. Pull away the growth above the cuts. Then separate the remaining stems carefully.

What kind of fertilizer do you use on clematis? ›

Clematis is a heavy feeder; supply a low nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-10 in spring, when the buds are about 2″ long. Alternate feedings every 4 to 6 weeks with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer.

Can I cut down clematis in September? ›

Never prune in the fall. No matter where you live, it is best to let your clematis stay unpruned and dormant until spring. Before you cut, you will need to know which pruning group your Clematis is in: A,B or C (sometimes called 1, 2 or 3).

How do you take care of clematis in fall and winter? ›

For frigid winters, or if you experience the occasional cold snap, your clematis will appreciate a generous layer of mulch. This insulates the roots, providing protection from drying winds and extreme temperatures.

Do I need to cover clematis for frost? ›

Trees, including evergreens, should be fine, Petitti said, but popular plants like lilacs, wisteria and clematis should be protected, as their flowers will likely wilt from the freezing temps. “You need to protect them with a sheet,” Petitti said.

How do you winterize vines? ›

Wood chips and hay make a good mulch. Place the chips around the crown or central portion of the plant where the main stem rises from the ground. If the plant gets zapped by the cold weather, this is the area that will be most affected and it's the area that needs the most protection.

What trellis is best for clematis? ›

Concrete reinforcing wire (sometimes called re-mesh) is rigid and heavy, but it makes a great trellis and will last for many years. First year clematis vines should be given a “training” trellis. Flexible wire mesh, such as chicken wire, works well.

What is the best clematis for beginners? ›

The easiest Clematis to grow, because they need little or no pruning, are Clematis montana, C. alpina and C. macropetala. One of the loveliest varieties, Clematis montana 'Elizabeth' has a beautiful vanilla scent.

What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 clematis? ›

Clematis varieties are divided into three groups according to their bloom times, growth characteristics, and pruning requirements. Group 1 is the spring bloomers, Group 2 are repeat bloomers, and Group 3 are summer or fall bloomers.

What type of clematis blooms all summer? ›

Among the easiest Clematis to grow, Herbaceous Clematis are long-lived. They bloom profusely over a long season, from early summer to early fall, with the bonus of attractive foliage. If deadheaded after their first flush of blooms, they will bloom again within 30-45 days.

What kills clematis? ›

Clematis wilt is a fungal disease of clematis, particularly the large-flowered hybrid cultivars. The fungus causes rapid wilting and, in severe cases, can kill the whole plant.

Why is my clematis struggling to grow? ›

Unsuitable growing conditions, particularly hot, dry soil, will often result in a weak, unhappy plant that wilts and dies back. Physical damage to the stems (e.g. from strong winds or rough handling during tying in of shoots) is also sometimes involved.

What is the best thing for a clematis to climb? ›

The easiest things for a clematis to grab onto are twine, fishing line, wire, thin branches, wooden dowels, or steel rods. The more grabbing opportunities you offer the better, so even if you have a nice trellis, consider adding some twine "helper" lines, or covering your trellis with a grid of trellis netting.

Do hummingbirds like clematis? ›

What is a hummingbird's favorite flower? Hummingbirds love brightly colored tubular flowers that fit their bills; it does not matter if they are large perennial tree and shrubs, like big berry Manzanita, climbers like trumpet vine or clematis or small herbaceous plants, like bee balm, columbines and beardtongues.

How long do clematis cuttings take? ›

Push the end of the cutting into the pot so it supports itself. Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag or place in a propagator and leave in a warm place but out of direct sunlight. Cuttings can take up to five weeks to root.

How many years does it take for a clematis to bloom? ›

Clematis plants will typically not flower until at least their second year. There are over 250 species, and they are adapted to an array of different hardiness zones. Depending on the variety of plant, its growing conditions, and the local climate, Clematis blooms can appear anywhere from late winter through mid fall.

Is clematis better in pots or ground? ›

Clematis performs best in large pots, especially if you live in a climate with chilly winters; the extra potting soil in a larger pot provides protection for the roots.

Do you cut clematis down to the ground for winter? ›

No matter what kind of clematis you are growing, they should be cut back to about 6 inches from the ground during the first late winter or early spring after it has been planted. This will make the plant have a more full and healthy growth habit in future years.

Do clematis cuttings need rooting powder? ›

Taking cuttings

Avoid using the very tips of the shoot as they're likely to be too soft. Remove one of the leaves from each cutting to help reduce moisture loss and allow more to be planted into the same pot, avoiding overcrowding. Dip the base of the cutting in hormone rooting powder and shake off any excess.

Should clematis be cut back for winter? ›

Simply prune in late winter, approximately 30-45cm from the ground, removing all the dead growth above. Cut back to just above a healthy new bud. With a vigorous plant, you can leave one or two stems unpruned so that you get flowers at different heights. Read our Grow Guide to Group Three clematis.

Do clematis vines spread? ›

The height of the plants will depend on what variety you are growing. Other popular varieties and their growth sizes are: Clematis 'Jackmanii' 8-12 feet tall and spread 4-6 feet wide. Clematis 'Pink Mink' 9-10 feet tall and spread 5-6 feet wide.

Should I deadhead my clematis vine? ›

However, it is advisable as deadheading a clematis offers many positives to the plant and all the best clematis can benefit from this simple task. It can produce a flush of new blooms and growth later on in the season and also rejuvenate the plant.

Can you divide clematis in the fall? ›

You should never transplant or divide the plants in the spring. Do this in the summer or fall during an overcast day.

Can I cut clematis to the ground? ›

Many Group 3 clematis produce new stems each year from the crown, behaving like a perennial. This group includes what's known as shrub or upright clematis. You can cut these types to ground level in late winter or early spring.

How many years do clematis live? ›

Planting- Since Clematis live up to 50 years or more, you should take the time to plant each one carefully. Water the pot well before planting. This is an important step for any planting.

Will clematis root in water? ›

Cut several 3- to 4-inch-long pieces of firm green stem from a healthy clematis vine using disinfected pruning shears. Cuttings must include at least one pair of leaves. Remove all but the top pair from each cutting. Place the cuttings in a bucket of water.

How do I make my clematis happy? ›

Clematis are happiest with cool shade at their roots and warm sun on their foliage. Mulching around the roots will help keep the soil cool, as will the foliage of a low-growing perennial. Vines grow up and over the top of the Essex Tuteur, and then drape gracefully.

How do I keep clematis blooming all summer? ›

Water is extremely important when it comes to getting your clematis to bloom properly. The roots of a clematis plant grow deep, so proper watering will help make sure the plant gets enough water to grow and flourish. For best results, plants should be receiving about an inch of rainwater or hand watering each week.


1. What to do with clematis when they are done flowering
(Garden Crossings LLC)
2. Pruning a Clematis - Growth types and what you need to know!
(Garden UP Landscape)
3. Clematis Care and How to get MORE BLOOMS - How to Deadhead a Clematis -Different Variety of Clematis
(Green Bee Explorer)
4. Clematis Pruning Groups 1,2 and 3 explained
5. Planting a Clematis
6. Growing, Pruning and Enjoying Clematis


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