How to Grow Clematis in Containers - Backyard Boss
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How to Grow Clematis in Containers

Clematis is a hardy, fast-growing perennial that boasts beautiful star-shaped blooms. Many varieties are climbers, which add dimension and height to your flower garden. The plants come in several colors, including shades of blue, pink, purple, and white. They’re the perfect addition if you’re looking for a perennial that will bring color and depth into your space.

But, if you’re struggling with growing clematis in the garden, you may be interested in growing the flower in containers. This will give you better control over lighting and watering and help defend against common pests and diseases. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know to grow clematis in containers for the perfect container garden!

Tools You’ll Need

garden tools white gloves green spade and terra cotta pot
Image credits: Gary Barnes via Pexels

There are a few tools you’ll need to plant clematis in containers. Fortunately, many gardeners will already have the following items in their arsenal. Check out the essentials below:

  • Clematis seeds or seedlings
  • Paper towel
  • Garden trowel
  • Watering can or hose
  • Seedling pots
  • Large pot with drainage 
  • High-quality potting mix
  • Pruning shears
  • Trellis or stakes

How to Grow Clematis in Containers

Step 1: Choose a Variety

Clematis flowers
Image credits: matthiasboeckel via Pixabay

Clematis comes in many varieties featuring spectacular blooms of all different colors with unique stems, vines, and leaves. But, this can also affect the bloom time frame, how tall the plants grow, and even required care conditions.

As always, it’s best to choose a variety that is most in line with your garden’s climate and the conditions you can provide. For example, Clematis viticella blooms from mid-summer to fall, while evergreen clematis is cold-hardy and thrives year-round.

Opt for a variety that suits the look you’re going for in your garden. When planting in pots, avoid clematis varieties such as herbaceous clematis, which act as ground covers. Instead choose climbers like evergreen and alpine clematis.

Clematis is a popular plant at many garden centers, but you can also grow it from seed. The plant is easy to grow and germinate, though some cultivars can take an incredibly long time, ranging from six months to three years. So, it may be best to purchase a seedling at your local nursery.

Step 2: Prep Your Container and Plant the Clematis

Clematis plants soil and a garden trowel on a wooden board
Image credits: Richard Griffin via Shutterstock]

When planting clematis, you will need well-draining soil that contains organic material such as peat moss. This will help the plant retain moisture while providing ample drainage to avoid overwatering.

You should also opt for a clean pot with drainage. This minimum size is about 18 inches wide and 18 inches deep. You can also plant ground cover on the soil’s surface if the pot is large enough. This will protect the plant’s roots, keeping them cool and moist. Otherwise, you can use mulch such as straw or wood chips.

Many clematis plants are vining and prefer a trellis or stake to climb on. So, when you plant the seedling, you should also include something for it to climb. You can set the pot next to a tree or wall, allowing nature to take its course from there! Or, purchase a trellis.

Step 3: Pruning Care

A woman is engaged in gardening, caring for clematis liana flowers outside the city in the garden. The girl cuts a branch of delicate flowers with a pruner.
Image credits: africa_pink via Shutterstock

Clematis varieties come in three groups, known as groups one, two, and three. The group your plant is in will defend how and how often you prune it. Pruning is essential to plant growth and health.

Plants in group one generally bloom in early spring. Pruning is optional, but if you do choose to, prune straight after the plants bloom and no later than July. Remove all dead, broken, and weak stems yearly to promote healthy growth.

Clematis plants in group two tend to feature large flowers and bloom in mid-June. You should prune in early spring (around February), removing any dead and broken stems. Then, prune most of the buds on each stem, about a third of the way down from the top.

Group three consists of plants that flower from the end of June through fall. Similar to group two, you will need to prune in early spring, though this will be a much harder pruning. Start at the base of the plant and remove all but two buds from each stem, keeping the stems about 2 to 3 feet long.

Step 4: Caring for Your New Plant

Clematis flowers in the garden
Image credit: Dmytro Maruchok via Shutterstock

Potted plants generally require more water because they dry out quickly. Consider how well-draining the soil is, the weather, the humidity, the size of the pot, and when it last rained to determine when the plant needs watering. You can also use your finger, feeling about an inch below the soil surface. If it’s dry, it’s time to give your clematis a drink!

Clematis plants prefer ample sunlight, though they can survive in partial shade. Too much sun and heat can cause the plants distress. The best part about growing these plants in containers is that you can move them around to ensure they stay happy.

Keep an eye out for common diseases such as fungal stem rot, powdery mildew, and pests such as aphids, earwigs, and rabbits.

Get Planting!

Many clematis varieties thrive when planted in containers, especially since you can provide them with optimal growing conditions. Remember that the type you choose will affect how you prune the plant and how often you’ll see blooms. The plants require plenty of sun and regular watering to thrive.

Will you be growing clematis in containers this season? Share in the comments below!