Plant it: Show-stopping Clematis


Grown in fertile soil, with medium moisture, and well-drained containers, in full sun to part shade, these vining plants are showstoppers. Best suited for sunny locations where the flowering parts of the vine are in sun, they will also flower to a lesser extent in part shade, provided that the roots are shaded. Some light afternoon shade is usually beneficial in hot and humid summer climates such as north Alabama.

Clematis vines do best when grown on a trellis or some other support. Roots should be kept cool, shaded and uniformly moist. Root areas may be shaded with perennials, annuals or small shrubs. Mulching is a good way to keep roots cool and shaded. Do not allow soil to dry out or you can lose this fragile plant.

Noteworthy characteristics

Clematis is a genus of more than 250 species.

Plants are often divided into three groups based on pruning needs. I have had great luck with pruning my purple clematis, forcing it to rebloom each time it’s trimmed, throughout the summer and fall.


No serious insect or disease problems, however, it is susceptible to wilt/stem rot (can be fatal), powdery mildew, leaf spots, rust and viruses. Potential insect pests include aphids, vine weevils, slugs/snails, scale and earwigs. Watch for spider mites. If you see any of these, spray with a product that works for insects and diseases.

Garden uses

Clematis look great at eye level when grown on a wall, trellis, fence, arbor, porch, lamppost or other stationary structure. They provide good architectural height and framework for small gardens. They can also be planted to sprawl over and through shrubs, scramble over old stumps or simply as a ground cover in conjunction with other flowering perennials. I use one of mine on the ground next to an ornamental Koi pond. People don’t recognize what it is because they aren’t used to seeing on at foot level.

The details

Common Name: Clematis

Type: Vine

Family: Ranunculaceae

Zone: 4 to 8

Height: 6- 8 feet

Spread: 3- 6 feet

Bloom Time: June to September

Bloom Description: Pale blue to blue-violet double flowers

Sun: Full sun to part shade

Water: Medium

Maintenance: Low

Flower: Showy

Tolerate: Deer, Black Walnut

Image: Loretta Gillespie

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