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Maintaining Clematis: Expert Tips For Watering, Cutting And Fertilizing

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Proper care is essential for clematis to develop their full bloom. We give you valuable tips on watering, cutting, and fertilizing.

Clematis ( clematis ) are considered perfect plants for greening a fence or a house facade. Especially their lush and extremely beautiful blooms make the clematis a welcome guest in the garden. Although it is considered hardy and easy to care for, the clematis needs the care to be able to present itself in all its glory. But how often do you have to water a clematis? And how do you properly fertilize a clematis? We answer these and other questions about caring for clematis in this article.

Watering clematis properly

Watering the clematis is generally quite uncomplicated, but is very often necessary for the thirsty climbing plants, especially in summer. The plants like a constantly moist soil environment – for this reason, you should check regularly whether the clematis needs to be watered. Especially when cultivating in a bucket, it is better to use the watering can more often, as the evaporation rate is higher with this variant.

Therefore, water your clematis as soon as the substrate has dried out even slightly on the surface. However, your clematis should never stand in water, and wetting the tendrils with irrigation water should also be avoided so that it does not rot. Clematis also needs water in winter: when it is dry on frost-free days, you can safely water the plant.

Maintaining Clematis: Expert Tips For Watering, Cutting & Fertilizing

Summary watering clematis properly:

  • High water requirement – higher in the pot than in the bed
  • Keep it constantly moist, but avoid waterlogging
  • Water as soon as the surface of the substrate has dried out slightly
  • Water on frost-free days in winter when it is dry

Tie up the clematis with a climbing aid

Most species of clematis are true climbers and sometimes reach heights of ten meters or more. When caring for the clematis, it is therefore particularly important to provide a suitable climbing aid early enough. The selection of the optimal climbing aid is always based on the height of the respective clematis species: For low-growing clematis species such as the alpine clematis ( Clematis Alpina ), a trellis is available to which the plant can hold on. For higher-growing species and varieties, you can use either a rope or a climbing net that extends several meters upwards.

Maintaining Clematis: Expert Tips For Watering, Cutting & Fertilizing

Fertilize clematis

Clematis combine shoot growth and flower formation in unimagined proportions. Their need for an adequate supply of nutrients is correspondingly extensive. Especially in their growth phase from March to August, you should fertilize the clematis. At this time, the climbing beauties need a lot of phosphates for flowering and potassium to strengthen the newly formed shoots for the winter. Ideally, you should use a fertilizer with long-term effects for the clematis: This enables balanced, even fertilization during the growth phase. The following agents are therefore particularly suitable as fertilizers for the clematis:

  • Ripe compost or manure in combination with a comfrey manure
  • Flower fertilizer with a high content of potassium and phosphate

Organic flower fertilizer not only offers phosphate and extra potassium. It is also composed almost entirely of organic materials. This offers many advantages compared to mineral fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are produced in a more resource-efficient way, are harmless to children and animals, do not wash out of the soil as quickly, and support healthy soil life. In addition, there is the long-term effect of these fertilizers.

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While you have to use the fertilizer every two weeks with mineral fertilizers, organic slow-release fertilizers are only applied two to three times a year. How and how often you apply the different fertilizers and how you should fertilize your clematis, you can find out in our special article.

Summary of fertilizing clematis:

  • Maintenance fertilization from March to August
  • Slow-release fertilizer: Two to three times a year
  • Mineral fertilizers: every two weeks in the irrigation water
  • It is best to use predominantly organic fertilizers with a lot of potassium and phosphate

Cutting clematis

An indispensable part of caring for clematis is regular pruning of the plant. An annual pruning ensures that the clematis grows into a well-branched and healthy plant. The time of cutting depends on the type of clematis in question – however, the flowering time offers a rough guideline. Early-flowering clematis and multiple-flowering hybrids should be pruned in spring after flowering. Multi-flowering species in particular benefit from this, as the cut supports the second flowering.

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In the case of summer flowering species, scissors are used after flowering in early winter. The shoots are shortened to a good 20 to 30 centimeters above the ground. In this way, a particularly large number of new shoots sprout. Thinning out the clematis is always necessary when too little light can enter the interior of the plant. In the worst case, the clematis could otherwise bald inside. To keep the plant vital, a rejuvenation cut should also be carried out every four years to stimulate new shoot formation.

Maintaining Clematis: Expert Tips For Watering, Cutting & Fertilizing

You can read more about it in our special article on the subject of “Clematis cutting”.

Summary clematis pruning:

  • Annual pruning to 20 to 30 cm
  • Cut early flowering and multiple flowering varieties after flowering in spring
  • Cut summer flowering varieties after flowering in early winter
  • A clearing out is necessary when not enough light can fall into the interior
  • A rejuvenation cut should be carried out about every four years or when the plants are bald
  • Carry out pruning after the first flowering of multiple flowering hybrids to support the second flowering

Hibernate clematis

When it comes to wintering, you should definitely know what kind of clematis you own. There is completely hardy clematis – such as the alpine clematis – which is wonderfully suitable for planting in the bed, as they do not have to be overwintered. However, you should be careful to choose a protected location for the clematis when planting.

Clematis that are not hardy, on the other hand, need winter quarters. The best way to do this is to plant them in a tub, for example is ideal for this. This makes it easier to overwinter the clematis. Around September / October, when the temperatures are slowly getting colder, the plant can move into its winter quarters. Correct care is also important when the clematis is overwintered: the winter temperature should always be between 0 and 10 ° C. It is only poured in such a way that the root ball does not dry out completely. Evergreen clematis also needs some light in winter. Otherwise, the plants can stand in the dark.

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Clematis also need care outdoors to survive particularly hard periods of frost. Simply cover the root area with a layer of brushwood over the winter to create an insulating layer that minimizes evaporation at the same time. The hardy clematis should be overwintered outside in a sheltered place. In the case of clematis in the pot, this is additionally wrapped with an air-permeable fleece or a reed mat and placed on a wooden base. Otherwise, there is a risk of the pot freezing through, which can cause considerable damage to the clematis.

Maintaining Clematis: Expert Tips For Watering, Cutting & Fertilizing

Summary of overwintering clematis:

  • Not hardy clematis: overwinter in a pot in frost-free winter quarters
  • Hardy clematis in the bed: Cover the root area with brushwood
  • Hardy clematis in a pot: Choose a protected place, cover the root area with brushwood, cover with fleece or a reed mat
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