How to Choose A Clematis

There are hundreds of different types of Clematis and by choosing varieties which flower at different times of the year you can enjoy a vibrant display from March to November.

Ideal to Soften Fences & Add Colourful Accents

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.

Clmatis Etoile Violette

A Flowering Plant With Lots of Varieties

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.

Three Groups of Clematis 

  • 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 Montana

  • 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.

nelly moser

  • 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.


Growing Clematis in Pots

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.

Clematis For Shade 

Clematis Alpina

This versatile variety has delicate blue flowers with a white centre, often tinged with pink. It is a vigorous climber which can quickly cover a trellis or fence and reach heights of up to 3 metres. It flowers from April to June and can be pruned back to the ground in winter, making it a great choice for gardeners. As an added bonus, it is suitable for growing in containers or in the ground, in any type of soil.

Clematis Nelly Moser

Clematis 'Nelly Moser' is a stunning deciduous climber perfect for shady gardens. This hardy plant is vigorous, growing up to 3 metres tall and wide and producing an abundance of beautiful pink and white flowers from summer to early autumn. Adding a trellis, archway or other structure is ideal for supporting the weight of the plant. This clematis is fairly easy to care for and will reward you with a beautiful array of blooms each and every year.

Clematis Montana

Clematis Montana Var Grandiflora is an evergreen fast-growing climber that is ideal for shady spots, producing large, fragrant, white flowers with purple anthers in spring and summer. Reaching up to 6m in height when given the right support, it's a great option for year-round interest as its foliage remains attractive even when not in flower. It's also low-maintenance and requires little pruning - although it may require an occasional trim to keep it in shape! This hardy plant is also fairly tolerant of dry conditions and can be grown in both full sun and partial shade, making it a versatile addition to your garden.

Clematis Jackmanii

The Jackmanii has deep purple, almost black, flowers set against a backdrop of lush green foliage. This vigorous climber is sure to make a dramatic impact in any garden as it grows to heights of up to 10 feet and can cover large walls and fences beautifully. The Jackmanii is also hardy, low maintenance and relatively easy to grow - even in difficult conditions, which provides a long season of colour from late spring through to autumn.

Common Problems When Growing Clematis In the Shade

When it comes to planting clematis in the shade, there can be some difficulties. Without six hours of sunlight a day, it can be difficult for clematis to thrive. Poor soil quality can also contribute to poor growth, as can overwatering which can cause root rot and can be fatal to the clematis. Pests can also become an issue in shady areas, with clematis being particularly vulnerable to aphids.

For those determined to bring clematis into their shady gardens, there are some things you can do to help ensure success. Start by testing the soil to make sure it has the right acidity level and nutrients for clematis growth. If necessary, amend the soil with the appropriate fertilizers. You should also ensure that the clematis gets enough water without becoming waterlogged. Finally, use appropriate pest control to keep aphids and other pests away.

Our Favourite Winter Flowering Clematis 

Winter flowering clematis is a beautiful addition to any garden, and can add colour and interest during the colder months. To ensure your clematis will thrive, it’s important to plant it in the right spot. Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Keep the soil moist, and protect the roots from cold weather by mulching with bark chips or compost. If possible, plant in a sheltered area to protect it from cold winds and frost damage. In the winter, a layer of mulch will help insulate the roots from extreme cold.

Winter flowering clematis can grow up to 10 feet in height, so it’s important to provide it with support and keep an eye on its growth. For larger clematis, a trellis or wall can be used to provide support and prevent the plant from becoming too top heavy. After flowering, prune back the winter flowering clematis to encourage new growth and more flowers in the spring.

Clematis Cirrhosa 

One of the most popular winter-flowering clematis varieties is Clematis Cirrhosa ‘Jingle Bells’. It produces an abundance of small, bell-shaped, white flowers with a subtle sweet scent, and these are very attractive to bees.

Reaching up to 2 metres in height and width, the stems of the plant are covered in small, grey-green leaves and it is best grown in a sheltered spot, in partial sun, with moist, well-drained soil. As an easy-to-grow plant, Clematis Cirrhosa ‘Jingle Bells’ is perfect for adding a splash of colour to a winter garden, making it a welcome sight in the colder months.

Clematis Armandii

Clematis Armandii is an evergreen winter flowering clematis variety that can provide fragrant white blooms from December through to March. This popular variety is a fast-growing climber that can reach heights of up to 10 metres, making it a great choice for gardens of all sizes. It's also suitable for growing in containers as well as in the ground and can tolerate temperatures as low as -10°C. For best results, Clematis Armandii should be planted in a nice, moist, well-drained soil and be placed in a spot that receives either full sun or partial shade. With its resilient nature and beautiful blooms, Clematis Armandii is a great choice for anyone looking to add a splash of colour to their garden during the winter months.

Clematis Avalanche

If you are looking for a winter-flowering clematis variety that will add a bit of sparkle to your garden, then Clematis X Cartmanii 'Avalanche' could be the perfect choice for you. This deciduous variety can reach a height of 3-4 meters when mature and has a vigorous, fast-growing habit. It produces an abundance of large white flowers with yellow stamens that are star-shaped and have a mild, sweet fragrance.

For best results, Clematis X Cartmanii 'Avalanche' should be grown in a sunny, sheltered position in well-drained soil. Pruning should be done in mid-summer to encourage more flowers in the following season. This variety of clematis will truly bring life to any garden and is sure to be admired by everyone who sees it.

How to Prune Clematis Armandii and Clematis Cirrhosa

For Clematis Armandii and Clematis Cirrhosa, prune them back to a pair of strong buds, about 30cm (12in) above the ground for Armandii and just above ground level for Cirrhosa. It is important to remove any dead, diseased or damaged stems and any mis-shapen stems should be pruned to achieve a more compact form. Additionally, if any of the stems have become too long, they should be cut back.

To prevent the spread of disease, make sure to disinfect your pruning shears with rubbing alcohol or a 10% bleach solution between each cut. With regular pruning, your winter flowering clematis should reward you with vibrant blooms year after year.

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