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Growing Clematis Vines

Clematis is from the Greek word klema, meaning "climbing". Clematis are part of the same family as as anemones, buttercups and peonies. They are naturally from the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, making them ideal for growing in the UK and cooler parts of the USA.

Unusually, the colourful flowers are not actually petals, they are the sepals of the plant - normally green and much smaller than the petals in the other plants.

Which Clematis Type and Where

There are over 400 clematis cultivars to choose from, each with its own colour, growth habit and needs. Pick the correct ones for your garden situation and you will have a beauty for many years.

Walls, Fences and Trellis
Almost all clematis cultivars grow well on walls, fences and trellis. The main considerations are the height the clematis will reach, it's strength of growth and how to support it.

picture of clematis florida seiboldii

Clematis are light plants and therefore do not need strong support. There are a wide variety of plastic and wooden trellis available, plus a huge range of plastic netting. It is also possible and simple to make your own support. Use wire or plastic string supported by nails or screws in the surface to be covered. Rows 45cm (18ins) apart are more than adequate.

Where the area to be covered is large (a garage wall for instance), the traditional strong-growing clematis is Clematis montana. Low on maintenance with maximum coverage, it provides a spectacular burst of colour in late spring. Clematis montana 'Tetrarose' is one of the best montanas, it has large flowers with a delicate scent. For something a bit different, try clematis 'Huldine' which will grow to 5m (16ft) in height.

Picture of Clematis 'General Sikorski'
Clematis General Sikorski
Click to enlarge.

Where a smaller area is to be covered, the world is your oyster.  'Nelly Moser' and 'The President' are two of the most popular and beautiful clematis and are widely available. Where it's important to have evergreen foliage, go for one of the Clematis armandii which has evergreen glossy leaves - make sure it's in a protected position though.  

For exposed areas choose one the alpina or macropetala clematis. These are really hardy and require very little maintenance. Many have the additional benefit of attractive fluffy seed heads which often last more than a month. Good varieties are the alpina 'Helsingborg' and the macropetala 'Markham's Pink'.


Name: jim@GardenAction
Date posted: November 27, 2011 - 02:56 pm
Message: A mighty clematis indeed! It is the stature of a small tree. Autumn and late winter would be the time to lift it and a large root will come with it. Better cut it back first,before moving, and wrench the roots.

Date posted: November 27, 2011 - 09:16 am
Message: we have very large cleatis montana rubens which has a four inch thick stem. and we want to replant it.? when is the best time to replnt them at what time of year should we do this any other advice you could offer us regarding this plant cheers steven

Name: jim@GardenAction
Date posted: November 16, 2011 - 05:39 pm
Message: For planting clematis advice, look at: They will take hard pruning, let it ramble.

Name: Pete Cook
Date posted: November 16, 2011 - 09:33 am
Message: When is the best the best time to plant Montana clematis?
What soil type / nutrients are best?
Is this variety pruned back to ground level after growing season?

Name: Joe Cady
Date posted: August 29, 2011 - 02:49 pm
Message: Is there any type of Clematis that can be grown in our hot desert climate in Phoenix, AZ?
Providing water is not a problem as I already have an established drip-system.

Name: Sally
E-mail: Private
Date posted: August 19, 2011 - 08:17 pm
Message: We just installed a lovely arbor and I want to grow Clematis in the big pots we bought on either side of the arbor. We get filtered sun through the live oak tree. Could you suggest a certain kind? We live in central California

Name: Deb
Date posted: July 31, 2011 - 02:53 pm
Message: I have clematis growing up my arbour they flower beautifully until i think chipmunks like to eat the roots and then they die. What can i do to get the little rodents to leave them alone? frustrated in cambridge lol

Name: jack smythe
Date posted: July 04, 2011 - 12:58 am
Message: I have 3 clematis's but on one of them the tips of the leaves are turning brown. Can you explain why?

Name: dianna sanford
E-mail: Private
Date posted: June 10, 2011 - 02:48 pm
Message: At our previous home we had a clementis and my mother said that a certain plant needs to be at the base to protect the roots. My mother has passed and we have bought a clementis for our new place and I was wondering if you know what plant it is.
Thank You,
Dianna Sanford

Name: kevin cotterill
Date posted: May 26, 2011 - 06:49 pm
Message: can you tell me i have a clematis in my garden that has done very well this season so far with lots of flowers now its loosing the flowers and would it be wise to prune it and tidy it up once the flowers have died or leave it till march next plant is called bees jubilee group 2 thanks kevin..

Name: K Thirkettle
E-mail: Private
Date posted: May 26, 2011 - 01:18 pm
Message: Please..can I grow clematis in pots?

Name: hagay
E-mail: Private
Date posted: May 17, 2011 - 04:07 am
Message: Hi,

I would be very grateful if you could offer us any help re a health problem we have with our clematis - "Madame Baron Veillard" type.

We have an arbour with 2 clematis planted each side at the rear, the main stems & bases being in a shaded area. These are well established & were planted approx 10 years ago & have grown profusely in the past. I prune these every year.

However, I noticed about 2/3 weeks ago on the one on the left that the new green foliage was drying out & wilting. I assumed that I was at fault as I had not watered them during the long dry spell (we live in Bristol) & have watered them since but to no avail as all green foliage has now gone. I have since noticed that there appears to be a slight release of a slimy liquid coming from near the base of the plant. I looked on your "Clematis Pest and Disease" section of your website where you mention Clematis Wilt & Slime Flux. There is no Mildew problem. It appears similar to the Slime Flux but is a brown colour like the soil, but certainly is not a yellowish colour.

The clematis on the rear right has not produced any green foliage this year from the original branches but does not have the slimy liquid problem on the other plant. However we did have new shoots last year springing out from parts of the main stem. Some died off but others appear to be OK but only cover a very small part of the arbour.

I appreciate it is difficult for you to comment without visually seeing the problem, but I hope from my comments above that you might be able to give us some advice on what we should try - ie keep watering it & see what happens & hope for the best, to prune it severely & if it does die whether we should replant another on the same site etc.

I would be very grateful for any assistance you could give us in trying to resolve these problems.

Kind regards

Name: ebrar
Date posted: December 23, 2010 - 11:20 am
Message: Yes clematis grow very quick on fences and walls especially.But these beautiful colourful flowers are not petals though but it looks nice on walls and terraces

Name: Ebrar
Date posted: December 23, 2010 - 11:21 am
Message: Yes clematis grow very quick on fences and walls especially.But these beautiful colourful are not petals though but it looks nice on walls and terraces.

Name: Jan Siddons
Date posted: September 13, 2010 - 07:01 pm
Message: Please help me! I have, what I think is a hybrid clematis, but I can't find a picture anywhere to confirm its name. We were given 8 plants that were grown from seeds and we planted them about May time against our fence and wall and they're now well over 6' tall! They like either semi shade or full shade and have dark green shiny leaves on a dark purplish stem. The flowers first present themselves seemingly as a cluster of 5 leaves forming a lantern/cup shape which slowly then opens revealing a large, off-white bell shaped flower. Over a few days, the flower slowly goes lavender and then eventually a deep, dark, almost black-purple. There are several long tendril stamens coming from the centre. The flower retains its bell shape throughout its life, eventually dropping off after about a week. Any ideas...?

Name: bob
Date posted: September 13, 2010 - 08:04 am
Message: I have a clematis with yellow bell shaped fowers. I have tried to take cuttings but with no luck ,
would you no the name of this plant and is it available to buy.
thanks bob

Name: bob
Date posted: September 13, 2010 - 08:03 am
Message: I have a clematis with yellow bell shaped fowers. I have tried to take cuttings but with no luck ,
would you no the name of this plant and is it available to buy.
thanks bob

Name: mike
E-mail: Private
Date posted: August 21, 2010 - 06:10 pm
Message: I have 2 vines growing up the side of my home and are nearly reaching the 2nd floor already. They each had some blooms early in the spring, but now seem content to just grow taller and taller without blooms. What gives here?

Name: Alberto
Date posted: August 15, 2010 - 12:37 pm
Message: Hi. I am confused. I need to cover 12 meters fence. people said that russian vine is a monster. Many others suggest clematis montana. Which one? can you help?

Name: Malcolm
Date posted: August 08, 2010 - 08:59 am
Message: Can you recommend a Clematis variety that grows in shade and also has flowers ? if any, - best one or two?