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Summer 2024


Photo: Cimi, pxhere
Photo: Cimi, pxhere
Searching for a long living, abundant blooming vine to cover an arbor, weave its tendrils through your climbing rose, or scamper across a sunny fence?

How about a clematis?

The genus Clematis includes over 300 species and thousands of hybrids. Various species bloom from early spring to late fall with varieties that are either deciduous or evergreen. Flowers bloom in tiny one-inch forms and up to saucer size blooms in star, bell, and tubular shapes. Colors range from pure white to soft pastels and vibrant purple and fuchsia. The Clematis family offers something for almost everyone.

What does clematis need?

To grow gorgeous clematis, give them what they need:

  • Six hours of sun each day.
  • Protection from wind.
  • “Head in the sun, feet in the shade” – an old adage that rings true today. Clematis roots need protection from heat. A layer of mulch close, but not touching the stem, will help keep the roots cool. The vine and blossoms should be in the sun.
  • Excellent drainage.
  • Rich soil well amended with compost.
  • A support system for the climbing vine.
  • Provide a balanced plant food in spring, mixing it into the existing soil. Feed monthly during the growing season but not during bloom season.
Which one should you grow?

Given the sheer number of clematis to choose from, it’s difficult to pick just one! Here are 20 clematis for Marin gardens to get you started.

Tips for pruning clematis

The trickiest part of growing clematis is knowing when to prune. When you purchase a new plant, read the tag carefully and keep notes about the type of plant you’ve acquired.

  • Early-blooming plants bloom on last year’s wood, so plan to prune after they bloom -- not in early spring.
  • Mid-season bloomers should be pruned in early spring before growth starts. Remove all dead or damaged stems, then cut back the remaining stems to a swollen flower bulb.
  • Late-flowering species bloom only on new growth. Before growth begins in early spring, cut stems back to a pair of strong buds, six to twelve inches above ground.

If you have acquired a clematis with no information about the plant, observe carefully for a full season to determine its natural bloom pattern.

Give clematis a permanent home

Well-established clematis can fill your garden with blooms for generations, but they do not like being relocated. Choose your location carefully and enjoy these cheerful blooming vines!