The keys to growing clematis successfully include giving it sufficient sunlight, keeping roots cool and moist, feeding the plant with fertilizer, and providing adequate support for the vines to climb naturally. Many types of clematis need full sun, with the exception of certain sensitive cultivars. This plant is said to do best with direct sun on the foliage while sheltering the root system. An alternating schedule of fertilizers helps nourish the plant as it grows. As a climbing vine, clematis will appreciate plenty of support for growing upward.
When growing clematis, keep in mind that most kinds of this plant prefer at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. Certain cultivars could suffer from bloom-fading with too much sun, so these types are best placed in a partly shaded area. For areas that are exposed to wind, Clematis alpina or Clematis macropetala are especially hardy and low maintenance.
Clematis roots prefer a moist and cool environment, in contrast to this plant's sun-loving foliage. Light mulch can be used to keep the roots cool. The ideal soil for growing clematis has a neutral pH and drains well. One means of balancing soil that is too acidic for growing clematis is to occasionally add wood ash or limestone.
Fertilizer is a key to success when growing clematis. In the spring, provide a fertilizer with a low nitrogen mix. Approximately every six weeks, alternate low nitrogen with a more balanced fertilizer, continuing through to the end of the plant's growing season.
Clematis likes to climb and will not thrive if there is no support for it to grasp. Any type of fence, trellis, or plastic netting will be adequate for growing clematis. The leaf stems can most easily hold onto items that have a diameter of less than 0.5 inches (1.27 cm), such as dowels, wire, or fishing line. Some types of clematis might do well as a sprawling ground cover or draped over an object, such as a woodpile. If attempting to cover a large area or wall, the species Clematis montana would be a good choice.
There are about 250 different species of clematis, with more than 400 cultivars available in a wide variety of colors, heights, and types of blooms. Clematis is part of the Ranunculaceae family that also includes peonies, buttercups, and anemones. This flowering vine originated in colder regions, making it hardy in less temperate climates. Many varieties of clematis are appropriate for USDA Hardiness Zone 3. Some specimens of this perennial have been known to survive more than 20 years.