What is Clematis?
Clematis (Clematis spp.) are a herbacious perennial climber. They are part of the Ranunculaceae family with over 200 different species many native to the Northern hemisphere. We have 6 native to Australia. Clematis come in a large variety of leaf textures, shape and colour such as long and narrow, hairy or hairless, oval or rounded with a pointed tip, and mid green, grey-green or purple-green in colour. Their flower colours are also broadly ranged with different shades of purples, reds, yellows, whites and pinks. Some clematis are evergreen and others deciduous. Clematis are divided into 3 groups based on their flowers; when they are produced and on what growth. Group 1 – Early flowering (Winter to early Spring) on last season growth. Group 2 Early to mid season (Late Spring to Early Summer) flowering on new shoots and last season growth. Group 3 Late Summer to early Autumn on new season growth. Some varieties of clematis have scented flowers. Position is key when planting your clematis. The foliage wants a lot of sun to promote blooming while the root system wants shade as they like to keep cool. They are reasonably fast growing when in the right spot and will need support such as a lattice or a pergola. Clematis are good companions to other plants because they don’t damage what they’re growing on.
Benefits of Growing Clematis
Clematis are an easy to care for climber that produces beautiful blooms. It is pest resistant and frost tolerant. They can be grown as ground covers, through a hedge, over an arch, on a pergola, or in a pot or hanging basket.
How to Grow Clematis
Cool, temperate, arid, semi arid.
Height: 2-3m, Width: 1.5-2cm
When To Plant Clematis
Plant in Winter to Spring.
Clematis like well drained, fertile soil. Dig through well broken down animal manure or compost before planting.
How To Plant Clematis
Plant in full sun to part shade, 1.5m apart with the plant crown at soil level. They like a spot where the foliage gets plenty of sun and their roots stay cool either from mulch, shade, or a small plant plant over the top.
Clematis Plant Care
Clematis like to be kept moist and require regular deep watering during Spring and Summer. Avoid water logging.
Use a complete fertiliser in early Spring.
May need regular cutting back in warm moist conditions. Once it’s finished flowering, prune the plant to 20 centimetres above the ground.
Clematis are broken up into three broad groups for pruning depending on how they flower.
Group One: These Clematis only flower on the previous season’s growth. That means whatever growth is made before Winter will be the growth that has the flowers. DON’T prune this group in Winter because you will be cutting off all your flowers!
Group Two: These Clematis flower on both previous seasons growth and new growth. Prune lightly in Winter to big buds making sure to cut out all weak, cluttered and dead growth. After the Spring flowering, prune again to remove all the spent flowers to encourage a fresh set of flowers in Summer. If the plant is sparse, prune harder to encourage branching. Feed after each pruning to encourage new growth. (This group includes most of the Large Flowered Hybrid Clematis)
Group Three: These Clematis only flower on new growth and require hard pruning in winter to encourage new growth. Some will naturally die down to the ground. They tend to flower later in the season, around November onwards and are terrific during Summer and Autumn. This group includes the viticellas, texensis and herbaceous varieties.
Recommended Clematis Varieties
Clematis are a fast growing climber with a large variety of colours to choose from. Pick the right spot, feed, water and let this spectacular plant provide you with bountiful flowers through the warmer months.