A mass of deep-purple clematis flowers growing over an arch with pink climbing roses (photo credit: Getty Images)

What to grow with clematis

Discover some plants that make ideal companions to clematis, covering walls, fences, arches and pergolas.

Clematis are beautiful climbers and versatile, too – they can be grown on walls, arches, pergolas, and up supports in containers. It’s possible to enjoy clematis almost all year round – discover clematis for every season.

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Clematis pair well with all kinds of plants, including annuals, perennials and even trees and shrubs. There are hundreds of clematis to choose from – use them to complement or contrast with other plants, or to extend the season of interest.

Clematis thrive in moist, well-drained soil, in full sun or partial shade. They like to have a cool root run, so shade the base with other plants or place pebbles or flat stones at the base. They grow well in pots, too – just use a large container that’s at least 45cm wide and deep, and fill with John Innes No.2 or 3. Watch our video guide to planting a clematis.

Here are some perfect partners for clematis.

Clematis pair well with all kinds of plants, including annuals, perennials and even trees and shrubs.

Roses

Combining clematis with roses is a classic combination. For the best effect, choose varieties that flower at the same time, and are of a similar size. Also, consider pruning times – ideally you want to be able to prune the clematis and rose together. Climbing roses are preferable to ramblers, which grow very large and need pruning at a different times to clematis. Ideally, choose a clematis in Pruning Group 2 – these flower at the same time as roses and can be pruned at the same time, too, in late winter.

Pink roses with mauve clematis blooms (photo credit: Getty Images)
Pink roses with mauve clematis blooms (photo credit: Getty Images)

Trees

Clematis can pair beautifully with trees, either complementing a feature such as leaf colour or blossom, or adding interest to an evergreen such as a conifer. Here, a Clematis montana is growing through a crab apple, Malus x zumi ‘Golden Hornet’. Plant within a foot or two of the base of the tree, avoiding large roots, and backfill with plenty of compost. The base of trees can be dry, so keep well watered. Site the planting hole as close as possible to the base of the tree and certainly within 2ft.

A clematis growing through a crab apple tree in bloom (photo credit: Getty Images)
A clematis growing through a crab apple tree in bloom (photo credit: Getty Images)

 Perennials

Planted at the back of a border, clematis combine endlessly well with all kinds of perennials – choose Group 2 clematis to combine with early flowerers such as alliums or Group 3 types to combine with later flowerers. Here, Clematis ‘Niobe’ is paired with penstemon.

Purple clematis flowers with magenta penstemons
Purple clematis flowers with magenta penstemons

Shrubs

Clematis usually climb over walls or fences in a border, but they can also be allowed to scramble over shrubs – either to complement the flowers, provide interest when the flowers or to brighten up an evergreen. Here, Clematis montana is scrambling over Euonymus x fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’.

Pale-pink clematis flowers growing through golden variegated euonymus
Pale-pink clematis flowers growing through golden variegated euonymus

Annuals

Clematis can also be grown alongside annuals at their base – an idea that works especially well in pots. Here, Clematis florida ‘Flore Pleno’ is combined with Nicotiana alata ‘Lime Green’. Get inspiration from our four clematis container ideas.

A subtle combination of white clematis and lime green nicotinia flowers
A subtle combination of white clematis and lime green nicotinia flowers

Groundcover roses

Ground cover roses are another great choice for planting at the base of a clematis – they are tough and long-flowering and work especially well in areas that are difficult to plant, such as a slope, and in pots. Here, Clematis ‘Burma Star’ is combined with Rosa ‘Suffolk’.

Deep-purple clematis flowers growing above crimson roses in a container
Deep-purple clematis flowers growing above crimson roses in a container

Grasses

For a contemporary look, try combining clematis with ornamental grasses as well as perennials in a border. Here, Clematis ‘Fujimusume’ is combined with Koeleria vallesiana ‘Mountain Breeze’. As most grasses are at their best in late summer, grow them with Group 3 clematis.

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Mauve clematis blooms with grass seedheads
Mauve clematis blooms with grass seedheads

Shade-loving veg

Ornamental and edible plants look great together, creating an attractive potager effect. Clematis like a cool, shady root run, which means that the base is ideal for growing salad leaves, which come in a range of shades. Discover more ways to mix edible and ornamental plants.

Red, green and variegated lettuces in rows
Red, green and variegated lettuces in rows

Tips for pruning clematis

Different groups of clematis need pruning at different times. But as a general rule, if it flowers before June, don’t prune. Find out how to prune clematis.

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