Clematis is an amazing climbing vine that produces a profusion of exquisite flowers. To obtain spectacular flowers continuously from late spring through autumn plant a combination of early, midseason, and late bloomers. The ingenuity and vigor of this plant is sure to delight avid gardeners and beginners alike. Stems intertwine with any nearby object to obtain support for the plant's sunward climb.
Some varieties can grow up to 20 feet in a single season. Clematis are wonderfully versatile, with some varieties being suited to container culture and others useful as ground covers. The majority will climb up trellises, through shrubs, and wander among evergreens and small trees. Varieties that produce blue flowers are especially sought after.
Clematis perform best when their roots are cool and their foliage is in the sun. 4" of mulch will help keep the roots cool. Most Clematis need at least 5 to 6 hours of sun everyday. It is ideal to locate your clematis where the roots are shaded by perennials or small shrubs, but with plenty of sun 3' to 4' off the ground for the clematis foliage to climb towards. In hotter climates, planting pink varieties in bright shade helps to minimize fading.
As with every garden plant, the most critical factor for insuring the survival of your new clematis is the care you take in preparing the planting site. In heavy clay soil, dig a hole at least 24" deep and 24" wide to insure good drainage. In lighter or sandy soil, a hole 18" x 18" will be sufficient. Amend your soil with organic material like compost or well-aged cow manure. Gently remove the Clematis rootball from its container and plant it in the hole so that the base of the plant is sunk 3" to 5" below soil level. Leave the original stake on the Clematis for the first year to act as a support as well as a protection against accidental breakage.
Clematis require regular fertilizing to perform their best. In spring, once the Clematis buds are about 2 inches long, start fertilizing. Feedings every four weeks are required if you have good garden soil high in organic matter. If you have poor soil, fertilize your clematis every two weeks, except when the flowers are in full bloom. Resume feeding after main flowering period. Avoid fertilizers that are overweighted in Nitrogen.
Pruning is primarily done to remove old blooms and make way for a better profusion next season. Pruning should be done annually, and in the months depending upon the type of species or hybrids grown. The groups have been mentioned above. Early bloomers should be pruned back as soon as the bloom gets over, before the end of July.
Flowering hybrids can be pruned in February or March, the cuts should be no more than a few inches from the stem tips. Late bloomers can be pruned in February or March, cut each deadhead flower stem to a height of about two to three feet. Prune all dead and old wood. For a vine that has gotten too tangled you can change its taring shape by giving it a hard prune according to its specific pruning season