Taking Care of Clematis Plants

Overview

When it comes to taking care of clematis plants the regular maintenance they require proves fruitful when you see the display that a well-managed plant can produce. The large, colorful and attractive flowers of a clematis plant can be a great backdrop or focus of any garden or yard. Plan ahead for the care your clematis needs and have the supplies on hand for quick and easy upkeep on a regular basis.

Step 1

Set up a trellis system at least 5 to 6 feet high to support the growing vines of your plant if there isn't one already. If against a wall or fence, you'll still need to establish a support for the vines to climb.

Step 2

Begin regular watering starting in the spring, when needed, based on the rainfall your area receives. Give enough water to support the plant without over-saturating the soil. You can determine this by making sure the ground isn't soaking wet after 24 hours.

Step 3

Prune the clematis, when needed, in the early spring when you see flower buds beginning to swell. Generally, when you do prune, you'll want to cut back at least 12 to 18 inches from the tops of the vines.

Step 4

Add mulch, such as manure or compost, around the base of your plant 2 to 4 inches deep. If you use manure, be sure not to let the manure touch the young shoots or stems or it can burn them. Add more mulch as needed over the years.

Step 5

Follow the dosage recommendations on the package of your fertilizer granules to sprinkle the fertilizer over the mulch layer. Work the granules into the mulch with a garden fork to keep it from washing away.

Step 6

Apply the appropriate amount of liquid fertilizer to the clematis once a week following the manufacturer's instructions from mid- to late spring. When you notice the flower buds are getting ready to open, stop the liquid fertilizer and continue again once flowering is complete.

Step 7

Continue to add liquid fertilizer and water, as needed, until about mid-autumn and then back off on both to allow the plants to go dormant for the winter.

Tips and Warnings

  • Be sure to discontinue feeding liquid fertilizer during the blooming period or you will force your buds to quickly open, one after the other, making the blooming short-lived.

Things You'll Need

  • Trellis
  • Water
  • Hand pruners
  • Compost, manure or organic material
  • General purpose fertilizer granules
  • Garden fork
  • General purpose liquid fertilizer

References

  • "An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis"; Mary Toomey, Everett Leeds; 2001
Keywords: clematis, clematis care, taking care of clematis

About this Author

Writing from Virginia, Margaret Telsch-Williams specializes in personal finance, money management, gardening, crafts and sewing, cooking, DIY projects and travel. When not writing instructional articles online, she works for the website Widescreen Warrior as a contributor and podcast co-host discussing all things film and entertainment. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and a master's degree in writing.