Planting a clematis

Planting a clematis

Find out how to plant a clematis, in our step-by-step guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do To do in February

Do To do in March

Do To do in April

Do not To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

Clematis are one of the best climbers you can grow, with hundreds of varieties to choose from. Most clematis flowers are shades of pink, purple and white, but you could also try growing yellow-flowered species like Clematis tangutica and Clematis repens. Some clematis are popular with bees and other insects, while others form fluffy seedheads, which birds like to use to line their nests.

There are three groups of clematis, which flower (and are therefore pruned) at different times of year. Most clematis fall into Group Three, and should be prune in late-winter.

All clematis thrive in fertile, moisture-retentive soil. Dig a deep planting hole and add plenty of well-rotted organic matter. After planting, cover the ground around the clematis with some stones or tiles. This can help prevent clematis wilt.

In  this video guide, Monty Don demonstrates how to plant clematis, and explains the difference between the different clematis groups:

More on growing clematis:

Follow our step by step advice on planting a clematis, below.

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You Will Need

  • Garden spade
  • Garden compost or well-rotted farmyard manure
  • Tiles or stones
  • Garden twine

Total time:

Step 1

All clematis varieties do well in moisture-retentive soil, so prepare a deep planting hole and add a bucket of garden compost or well-rotted manure. Mix this thoroughly into the soil.

Planting a clematis - adding compost to the planting hole
Planting a clematis – adding compost to the planting hole

Step 2

Position your clematis in the hole so that the top of the rootball is level with the soil surface, or 6cm below for large-flowered types (pruning group three). Remove lower leaves, fill around the roots with soil and firm down.

Planting a clematis - planting the clematis
Planting a clematis – planting the clematis

Step 3

Water plants thoroughly after planting and every two weeks in the first three months. Cover the soil surface around the plant base with tiles or stones to keep the roots cool and moist, which can prevent the fungal disease clematis wilt.

Planting a clematis - placing tiles around the clematis to keep the roots cool
Planting a clematis – placing tiles around the clematis to keep the roots cool

Step 4

Tie in the new stems regularly using soft twine or foam-covered twist ties. Take care not to break the stems and space them evenly to maximise coverage over their supports.

Planting a clematis - tying in clematis stems
Planting a clematis – tying in clematis stems
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Clematis pruning groups explained

  • Clematis Group One – no pruning required. Can be pruned to tidy them up which is carried out straight after flowering
  • Clematis Group Two – some pruning required. Prune in February by removing dead, damaged and diseased growth. Trim other stems to just above the strongest and highest pair of buds
  • Clematis Group Three – hard pruning required. Cut right back in spring before growth begins, pruning to just above a healthy bud, about 30cm from the soil