Clematis (the word is from the Greek and means vine) is one of the flowering vines better adapted for Colorado. The best known flower colors are the cool shades of purple, blue, pink and white. Hotter shades of red and yellow are also available. Flower shapes range from large, eight-inch hybrids to the dainty bells and honeysuckle blooms of autumn clematis.
In Colorado, planting clematis in the spring is generally more successful than fall planting. Vines do best in full sun and bloom poorly when planted in areas that have less than 6 hours of sun per day. A trellis or other support is helpful in windy periods.
Plant clematis in a soil that drains well and is amended with organic matter such as compost. The crown, the part of the plant where the stem and roots meet, should be about two inches below the soil. Keep plant roots moist and cool by using mulch. However, clematis roots do poorly when the soil around them is water-logged.
Prune clematis to promote flowering. There are two different kinds of clematis and you need to determine which kind you have before you prune. Woody-stemmed types like the Clematis montana bloom early on last year's stems. Prune plants after flowering to remove deadwood.
Large-flowered Clematis ‘Henryi’ and Clematis ‘Elsa Spaeth’ hybrid types also should be pruned this way. Types that bloom on the current year's growth should be cut back in early spring to the first pair of healthy buds. These include Clematis x jackmanii and Clematis 'Ernest Markham' hybrids among others.
Well-established clematis will bloom for generations.
For more information, see the following Colorado State University Extension Fact Sheet.
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Updated Friday, April 11, 2014