Clematis is a popular climber that easily transforms a dull wall or pergola into a sea of flowers and the different flower shapes and colours means that there really is a clematis to suit every taste. Old Man's Beard (another name for clematis) is the perfect partner for other climbing plants such as climbing roses. If you want clematis that stays green in winter, choose the Clematis armandii — as evergreen climber, this will give you colour in your garden all year round!
Location & plantingClematis has some specific requirements for its location. It prefers to have its roots in the shade and its head in full sun. The midday sun in a south-facing garden also gets the flowers of the clematis a little too hot, so always plant clematis with its feet in the shade and make sure that the flowers and branches can also get some shade. If you would you like to plant your clematis in a sunny spot, but you cannot provide shade for the roots, then plant it through a shrub or against a tree. The roots will then get enough protection and at the same time it will naturally look very beautiful!
You can plant clematis all year round, but the best time is autumn or early spring, so that you can enjoy the beautiful flowers in summer. Plant clematis in humus-rich and well-drained soil and keep it moist all year round. Rain usually takes care of this, but give extra water in prolonged dry periods. Always give small splashes of water at a time so that the roots do not rot. Make sure that you water clematis before you start planting; dip the roots in a bucket of lukewarm water then get to work in your garden. Dig a hole deep enough for the root ball to fit into, loosen the roots slightly, if necessary, and place the root ball in the hole. To protect the roots properly, make sure that you plant them at least 15 centimetres below the surface. Fill the hole with fresh potting soil and tamp it down lightly. Put a mulch layer around the plant for extra protection and don't forget to water it.
Caring for clematisTaking care of clematis is fairly easy. As mentioned earlier, always keep the soil moist and the roots out of the sun. During the growth period, between March and May, give it some extra plant food to stimulate growth, In the form of organic fertiliser. When clematis starts to grow, it is important to support it as clematis needs climbing material so it can climb properly. Place the plant against a pergola, fence, climbing frame, wall or tree, for example. Tie the climbing branches securely to the climbing material in order to prevent them from growing wild. This will keep a beautiful flowering clematis in the perfect shape.
Pruning the clematis is also something to take into account, as this will make sure that the climbing plant continues to flower beautifully and prevent wild growth. In the first year, prune everything back to about 30 centimetres above the ground, to stimulate growth of the branches. In addition, various clematis groups have alternating periods when you can prune the plant. For more information, see the pruning page on our blog. Finally, it is important that you keep a close eye on the climbing vines and leaves. If they start drooping, the plant may be suffering from clematis wilt; a common disease that is caused by fungi. The fungi penetrate through cracks in the roots or branches and—once inside the plant, they stop the sap flow. As a result, the flowers and leaves no longer receive any nutrients. Cut back branches to about 10 centimetres above the ground.