Clematis: Queen of Climbers

In Perennials by tonka_admin

Spring is a great time to plant clematis. With nearly 300 species and countless cultivars, there’s no doubt why they are called the Queen of Climbers.

Clematis are vining plants that are easy to grow. Their large, showy flowers are breathtaking.

Starting your clematis

Pick a site that receives half-day or full-day sun. A little afternoon shade may help keep the deep-colored flowers from fading.

Provide support for vining. Clematis climb with twining leaf petioles, so small wire, fencing, nylon netting, or string can be added to the trellis.

Having the right soil is critical if you want to succeed with clematis. This plant adores a rich, organic soil that is heavily amended with compost.  Clay soil is not recommended. Hot sandy soils will not allow the vine to grow to its full potential.

Keep soil moist, but well-drained. Mulch to keep the root zone cool. Clematis love to have a “sunny face and cool feet”.


Clematis are heavy feeders.  Each spring, put several shovels full of compost around the base of each plant. When the new vines are 2 to 3 feet long, give them a boost with fish emulsion.  Tonkadale recommends Neptunes Harvest Fish Fertilizer.

NOTE: Feeding with a high nitrogen fertilizer may reduce bloom production in favor of more vegetative growth.

Pruning types

Pruning is important to get the most flowers from your clematis.

Clematis: RebeccaPrune Type 1: This group of clematis produce their flowers directly from old stems. Therefore, pruning should not be done until right after all flowering has been completed.

Prune this group by removing all dead and weak stems immediately after flowering. Large, established plants more than 15 feet tall are not normally pruned, especially if they are growing in trees.

At the time of pruning, all stems should be tied in position on their trellis or other host. Also, if the clematis has outgrown its space, the correct and only time to prune to size is right after flowering is done.

After pruning, new growth will begin and create the stems for next year’s flowers.

Prune Type 2: In this group, all first flowering comes from last season’s ripened stems. In early spring, watch for swelling leaf buds beginning to show. Cut off all dead material above these swelling buds.

Be sure all growth is tied to the trellis at this time. Do not tie too tightly, so growth can begin and stems won’t crack.

Prune Type 3: This group blooms later and from new growth. This group should be pruned in early spring as new buds begin to show low on the plant. All dead material above these buds should be removed at this time.

Old foliage that has mildew should also be cleaned out.

Clematis varieties at Tonkadale


Pruning Type 1: Old wood

  • Cezanne
  • Julka
  • Piilu
  • Purpurea
  • Sapphire Indigo
  • Solwijk Gold
  • Toki
  • Vancouver Danielle

Pruning Type 2: Last year’s growth

  • Anna Louise
  • Bijou
  • Bourbon
  • Diana’s Delight
  • Dr. Ruppel
  • Empress
  • Franziska Maria
  • Hyde Hall
  • Ice Blue
  • Integrifolia Caerulea
  • Josephine
  • Kilian Donahue
  • Lanuginosa Candida
  • Liberation
  • Miss Bateman
  • Mrs. N. Thompson
  • Multi-Blue
  • Natasha
  • Nelly Moser
  • Pink Champagne
  • Proteus
  • Rebecca
  • Romona
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Pruning Type 3: New growth

  • Amethyst Beauty
  • Angelique
  • Avante Garde
  • Barbara Harrington
  • Blue Angel
  • Contesse Debouchard
  • Countess of Wessex
  • Ernest Markham
  • Gipsy Queen
  • Giselle
  • Hagley Hybrid
  • Jackmanii
  • Jackmanii — Superba
  • Moonfleet
  • Panticulata
  • Prince Charles
  • Recta
  • Reflections
  • Rhapsody
  • Rosemoor
  • Sweet Summer Love
  • Victor Hugo
  • Viticella Purpurea Plena Elagans