This Old Queen is Sitting on the Fence

I’m talking about the Queen of flowering vines, the forever popular clematis.  Providing a few basic rules are followed, this plant is easy to grow and will provide enjoyment for years to come.

Keep your head in the Sun, Keep your roots in the Shade:  Clematis likes to have full sun (8 hours plus) and needs a soil that isn’t sunbaked and dry.

It’s all about the Roots:  Happiness beneath the ground means happiness above.  Start your clematis off by providing it with a soil it can’t fail to enjoy.  This means digging a deep hole, 18” to 24” and replace it with a good mixture that has lots of compost, good earth and well flecked with bonemeal.

Up to my neck and then Some:  Remove the clematis its container.  The crown of the plant, or where the stems come out of the soil while in its pot, should buried 2”-3” below the surface of the soil.  This protects the most important part of the plant and encourages additional rooting, both of which encourage a robust plant and vigorous growth.

Climb Every Mountain:  Clematis need something to climb on…a fence, a trellis, an old ladder,  a pergola or even trees and shrubs will do!

Help me, I’m drowning!  Clematis will not live in standing water, but they do appreciate being watered at least twice a week during dry spells. A thick layer of mulch also helps keep moisture in the ground and the roots cool.

The final Cut:  Prune your clematis according to its type, either 1or 2 or 3. This information can be found on the tag, online or by asking a knowledgeable greenhouse member of staff.  Pruning is decided by flowering time.

Type 1:  These clematis only bloom on old wood, so no pruning is required other than for the removal of deadwood or to remove wayward stems.

Type 2:  Blooming on both old and new wood, these are lightly pruned for height, width and removal of deadwood.

Type 3:  I always remember this one by Type 3 to the Knee.  These varieties only flower on new wood and should beecut back to a few feet off the ground.  This will ensure the flowers are in exactly the right spot:  Eye Level!

Garth Davey, May 2022
Questions? Email Garth at

Pictured: Clematis Comtesse de Bouchard