Clematis, one of the best and most prolific climbers is often used to cover a chain link fence or trellis. This fragrant bloom comes in a multitude of colours and flower head types, ranging from a delicate spray of bells, golden lanterns, large-headed blooms and double-headed blooms, flowering typically from Spring through to Autumn.
A type and colour to accentuate any garden area and can be grown directly in soil or in patio tubs. Height can range from 3 feet to 40 feet so bear this in mind when purchasing.
We often get asked “What to do with Clematis after Flowering?” and “Do you deadhead Clematis?” the answers are not always as simple as you think.
Do You Deadhead Clematis?
Deadheading is optional depending on your requirements, it is not a care procedure for the plant but is a good idea for some of the early flowering varieties as it promotes new growth later in the year.
Deadheading will encourage new blooms to grow and help to maintain your display throughout the summer months.
By not deadheading you encourage the seed pod to ripen, allowing harvesting of the seeds at a later date for further re-planting in the future.
What is Deadheading?
Deadheading is the removal of dead flower heads that have not fallen from the plant to encourage new blooms to grow.
When deadheading it is advisable to only deadhead a quarter to a third of the dead blooms at a time, this will ensure a continued display of colour in your garden.
How to Harvest Clematis Seeds
Allow the seed pods to mature on the plant, the usual sign of maturity is when the seed pod goes brown with a feathery coating.
Pull one seed pod towards you pinching the stem behind to obtain a clean break.
Seeds inside should be brown, if green, delay harvests a few days and try again until seeds appear brown then harvest the remainder.
Keep seeds in an airtight container in a cool dry area until these can be planted out in mid-Autumn or germinated indoors on a windowsill.
Types of Clematis
There are over 300 species of clematis and countless hybrids, but they can all be subdivided into 3 main groups according to when and how they bloom.
Group 1: Early Flowering Species
Group 1 flowers will bloom in the spring on existing wood and do not require any pruning for them to flower the next year.
Alpina…. Armandii…. Cirrhosa…. Macropetala…. Montana…. Montana-Grandiflora…. Montana-Rubens
Group 2: Early Large Flower
Group 2 flowers will bloom first on old, existing wood before flowering on new wood later in the year. This group can be pruned after flowering.
Anna-Louise…. Arctic-Queen…. Barbara-Jackman…. Carnaby…. Daniel-Daronda…. Duchess-of-Edinburgh…. Elsa-Spath…. General-Sikorski…. Lasurstern…. Lincoln-Star…. Marie-Boisselot…. Mrs-N-Thompson…. Niobe…. Vyvyan-Pennell
Group 3: Late Flowering
Group 3 blooms in late summer on new wood and can be pruned down to 12 – 24 inches each autumn depending on the age of the plant.
Comtesse-de-Bouchaud…. Duchess-of-Albany…. Etoile-Violette…. Florida…. Gypsy-Queen…. Hagley-Hybrid…. Huldine…. Lady-Betty-Balfour…. Perle-d’Azur…. Petit-Falcon…. Star-of-India…. Tangutica…. Ville-de-Lyon…. Viticella
How to Care for Clematis
Although Clematis will continue to grow and flower regardless of pruning, it is a good idea to look after it otherwise it can quickly get out of hand and grow in places that you do not want it to.
If vine stems are old and woody, cut back to just above young shoots lower down.
If vine stems are still young, retain but cut back lateral growth.
Pruning will not increase flowering and may in fact reduce that season’s flowering but is utilised to stop untidy tangling growth of shoots.
Prune after flowering only if necessary, to restrict growth or in the case of Clematis Wilt mentioned later in the ‘what can go wrong’ section.
Pruning should only be carried out with the correct tool namely sharp secateurs (amazon link – opens in a new tab).
Water freely in dry spells to encourage growth but keep cool and moist in summer.
The best area to plant is in a West North West situation in the garden so the heat of the sun is not intense during the mid-day period.
Ideally, plant among low shrubs or ground cover plants to protect the soil from too much heat and drying out.
Mulch in the spring with peat, garden compost or straw.
Some plants need shelter through the winter period. If unsure drape plastic sheeting over branches from late Autumn to protect them.
What Can Go Wrong with Clematis?
Like many plants, Clematis seem to be a tasty treat for all sorts of little critters and can also suffer from certain diseases so below we have identified the main culprits and what you can do if you are visited by any of them.
Slugs will eat young shoots stopping the growth of plants.
Remedy: Apply slug pellets as soon as new shoots appear.
Clematis is prone to aphid attacks; they damage the tips and the leaves.
Remedy: Spray fortnightly with a recommended aphid insecticide.
Left untouched, Earwigs make ragged holes in leaves.
Remedy: Spray with insecticide or apply Savin dust.
Clematis wilt may cause shoots to die.
Remedy: Cut back affected shoots to the base of the affected stem.
Powdery Mildew shows as a white deposit on leaves.
Remedy: Spray fortnightly with Myclobutanil or Difenoconazole.
Do you deadhead clematis? Well, as we mentioned, it is not a necessity but by removing those unsightly deadheads, you can help your clematis send its energy reserves to other parts of the plant that are still growing.
If, however you choose not to deadhead your clematis, you will be able to let the flower produce seeds that can be planted the following year.
Garden Doctor Tips
“Regardless of growth, do not prune your clematis until the second year. Immature clematis does not do well when pruned too early!”
“Deadhead your type 2 varieties as soon as the flowers fade to promote the growth of buds on the new wood!”
“Clematis flowers do well in full sun, but the base of the stem and roots do not so mulching can be a good idea all year round!”
“Ensure to check that the seeds inside the pod are brown, if they are still green, try again in a few days when they may be ready!”
Frequently Asked Questions
When should you deadhead clematis?
Deadhead clematis after the flowers have faded. By deadheading, you are allowing the plant to send the nutrients to other parts that are still growing ready for the next year’s growth.
Do clematis bloom more than once?
Group 2 clematis will bloom more than once in a growing season. They will bloom in the spring on old existing wood and then they will bloom again in late summer on the new wood.
How do you maintain a clematis?
Once established, clematis is relatively low maintenance although you may want to keep them in check by pruning. Deadheading is also advisable to prevent the flower from expending too much energy on producing seeds.
Hi, I’m Trev and I’ve been growing things since I can remember. When I was younger, I grew up on a farm, so I have always been around plants and animals. After studying horticulture at university, I decided to start my own nursery which I have run now for 25 years. In my spare time, I run this website – which is a resource for people who want to learn more about their gardens.