Clematis in Containers

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Posted by @canadanna on
Despite my Canadian avatar, I live in Texas, so I can’t speak from practical experience about growing clematises in containers in the North. It is possible, however, to grow a clematis in a pot in a hot zone, and likely not that different in my native land.

Some factors that might make you decide to grow a clematis in a container are:
Added height in the garden bed or as a focal point.
Clematises look beautiful cascading down as well as growing upward on a support.
Keeping an “eye” on that new clematis before it may get lost in the flower bed.
Easier to change sun/shade requirements.

There are a few factors that will lead to success:
Choose varieties that match the container's size. I like the thermal light containers, mainly because they are lighter to move and don’t break. I think they insulate against our hot summers and I can drill larger drainage holes. Aim for a size of about 18 x 18 inches. Colder climates might want 24” x 24”. If the variety is a small vine, you might plant two in the same container.

There is a huge variety of short vines, such as Bijou, Piilu, Josephine, and Dawn. Also consider non-vining varieties, such as Arabella, Durandii, Sapphire Indigo, and Inspiration. Raymond Evison is a breeder known for developing smaller vines for containers.

Check the ATP database for the color you prefer and check the height, which varies from under 3 feet to over 20!

Then bend the rules….
I grew Nelly Moser (12 feet potential) in a small container (less than 16 “wide and 15 “ high) for 10 years. She grew maybe 4 feet at the most. I recently planted Nelly in the ground. Although I never had tried it, a larger clematis can be removed from the pot and have its roots trimmed.

Good quality soil mix: Mix potting soil with lots of compost. Include expanded shale for drainage. It never hurts to add earthworm castings and green sand, and to include bone meal below (but not touching) the roots.

Keep the roots cool. As with planting in the ground, the crown should be planted about 3“ below the top of the soil in the container. You can lay the roots on a diagonal toward the trellis or shrub you want it to grow on. Mulch well. If it is going into a garden bed, some of the surrounding foliage will protect it too.

In the winter, because the vines are deciduous in my zone, I usually plant a few shallow annuals in the pot, such as violas. I do this mainly so that I will remember to water occasionally. In summer, I might put some sedum in the pot.

Have patience: Clematis are known for the sleep, creep, and leap rule. You can be ruthless and cut back the vine the first year and you will be doing the clematis a favor. It gives it a chance to put its energy into the roots. It doesn’t need the green leaves to grow. It only needs to have moisture and nutrients and to be kept cool.

Thumb of 2015-06-04/canadanna/f04965
Nelly Moser

Thumb of 2015-06-04/canadanna/dc0956
Piilu in a container doesn't get lost in spite of the big boys nearby

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Containers for Clematis by quietyard Jun 8, 2015 6:34 AM 9

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