Clematis alpina 'Helsingborg'

Group 1 clematis - Grow Guide

In this handy grow guide, we have all you need to know about growing Group 1 clematis.

The Clematis genus is wonderfully varied. These largely hardy climbers can be trained over fences, up walls and along pergolas.

The secret of success with these climbers is to prune each one correctly. To make life easier for the gardener, clematis are divided into three pruning groups.

The clematis in Pruning Group 1 flower in spring on stems produced in the previous year. They are the easiest to care for, as no pruning is necessary. Discover Group 1 clematis to grow.

Discover all you need to know about growing Group 1 clematis, in this handy Grow Guide.

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Flowers
Flowers
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Prune
Prune
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Planting position

Within Pruning Group 1 are clematis with many different requirements. Clematis montana is a popular species in the group. Montanas are vigorous climbers that enjoy sun or part shade and can cope with any aspect. Clematis alpina are very tough climbers that thrive in most soils, and out of all the clematis manage to live in containers quite happily.

As a rule, most clematis prefer to be planted in garden soil rather than in containers. If growing in a pot, plant in John Innes no.3 with added grit. Whether in a pot or garden soil, choose a position where the roots will be in shade and the top growth in sunshine. 

Planting technique

Ideally plant in spring or autumn. Dig a hole that is double the width and depth of the root ball of the clematis. Dig in some well-rotted organic matter and a sprinkling of bone meal. Remove the plant from its pot – don’t be tempted to tease the roots out. Place the root ball in the hole and backfill. Firm in well and water. Continue to water until plants show healthy signs of growth.

Clematis benefit from being planted deeper than they were in the purchase pot. Plant about 5cm deeper and new shoots will be encouraged.

To give plants a head start some gardeners prune plants after planting. Cut back to about 30cm just above a leaf node. You may miss a few flowers but you'll end up with a stronger plant. 

Propagation

Clematis are propagated by taking softwood cuttings in April or May. Remove a section of stem that is ripe but not too woody or too soft. Fill a garden pot with cutting compost, and water. Add a fine layer of grit to the top of the compost.

Cut a section of the stem above a leaf joint. Your cuttings should be about 7cm long. Remove some of the leaves so each cutting is left with just one. Push the end of the cutting into the pot so it supports itself.

Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag and leave in a warm place but out of direct sunlight. Cuttings can take up to five weeks to root.

Clematis can also be propagated by layering.

Troubleshooting

Clematis wilt is a disease that clematis growers dread as there is no chemical treatment available. It is easy to spot as plants quickly wilt. Clematis wilt is a fungal disease. Prune out all affected branches and burn them.

It is worth noting that plants will also wilt if under stress. Clematis wilt is not to blame for the death of every clematis – in some cases you might be!

Care

The clematis in Pruning Group 1 flower on wood created the previous year. Therefore they do not require any pruning.

If you need to prune them in order to tidy the plants, do so straight after flowering. If pruned back hard by mistake, plants won't die but you will miss out on a year of flowers. 

Clematis in containers

If growing clematis in containers buy the largest pot you can. Wood or stone containers are far more beneficial to plants than plastic. Plastic pots heat up really quickly in summer and offer no insulation to plant roots in winter.
Clematis montana 'Freda'
Clematis montana 'Freda'

Group 1 clematis to try

  • Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’ – an evergreen with pink and white speckled flowers from November to February. Height 3.5m
  • Clematis macropetala ‘Markhams Pink’ – double drooping pale-pink flowers in April and May. Height of 2.5m
  • Clematis montana ‘Freda’ – single flowers of four petals, white and pale pink in May and June. Reaches a height of 6m
  • Clematis alpina ‘Blue Dancer’ – small, pale blue nodding flowers in April and May. Height 2m

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