Guide to Clematis

A guide to growing Clematis

August can be the time that our gardens begin to look a bit tired, especially during hot dry spells, so the fresh and vibrant boost of colour that late flowering clematis bring can bring your garden back to life and remind us all that there is plenty of summer gardening time to enjoy yet!

They offer flowers at eye height and they can help to disguise fences, soften boundaries, or you can use them on an arch or plant up obelisks to add colourful vertical accents without taking up too much space on the ground – a crucial factor if you’re working with a smaller plot or enclosed area of the garden.

Many gardeners are put off growing clematis by their vigorous growth and seemingly complicated classifications – but in actual fact they fall broadly into simple groups – early and late flowering with large and small varieties in each group.

Many know clematis best as the early flowering ‘montana’ varieties providing a generous froth of pink flowers very early in the season. But there are many more that can be really useful - they are easy to grow and combine well with herbaceous planting.

Clematis fall into three Groups

Clematis Montana

Group 1 contains those that don’t need to be pruned, because this group, flower on last year’s wood, mostly producing flowers in winter and spring – if needed they can be tidied up straight after flowering.

Clematis Nelly Moser

Group 2 includes all early large forms such as Nelly Moser that produce their main flush of flowers in May and early June, on stems made in the previous year so pruning is limited to cutting out the dead or weak shoots in February.

Clmatis Etoile Violette

Group 3 is the hard prune group which includes viticellas such as Etoile Violette. Cut them back to new growth in mid-February. They will produce vigorous new growth and flower in the second half of summer giving a great late summer boost of colour on trellis, arches and structures.

If you haven’t got room for a large structure there are clematis that are perfect for containers and planters – just look for a variety that is less vigourous. Container-grown clematis need to have cool roots - place them in a bright spot, but not in a full south-facing position and use a small obelisk for support.

The Clematis is often known as ‘Queen of the Climbers’ and with varieties to see you through the whole year they are really worth including in your plans.