Clematis – a vine for shade


Clematis - newly planted on right

I recently discovered that some clematis vines are shade lovers.  Clematis is my favorite flowering vine because it often blooms twice and puts on quite a show high above the rest of the garden.

Much to my dismay this spring, I realized that one of my clematis vines died over the course of the winter.  Truth be told, it was a bit sickly last fall, but I thought it would perk up this spring.

In hindsight, the real problem may have been that I selected a sun-loving clematis instead of a shade lover.  Our garden is in transition from sun to shade and if there are enough stresses on a plant – it will croak! 


While researching shade loving vines, I discovered that the bi-colored clematis vine is a shade lovers.  (The solid, especially deep purple clematis are sun lovers).

So at the nursery, I purchased two clematis’ (or is it clematii?). “Barbara Jackman” a mauve and magenta flower is one and ‘Dr. Ruppel” a pink and lavender flower is the other.  Both are supposed to bloom twice – May/June and then again in September.  The second blooming usually occurs with a lot of moisture.

Before planting, I took care to unwind the clematis from the pot trellis.  You want to start training your vine early – don’t plant the vine with the mini-trellis it came with!  You will regret it.  I attached the vine with green twist ties like you get at the produce aisle at the grocery store.

I planted the vines slightly below the soil line (to the second node of new growth).  These vines like being cool and protected by the soil.  I added some bone meal and fresh compost from our compost bin and then mulched with wood chips.  The roots like to be cool so in addition to the mulch, I will be planting a perennial near the base of the vine.  One will have wild ginger ground cover near it, and I haven’t decided yet on the other.

Another thing about clematis is that you need to be sure to find out what type of pruning it needs.  (It will say so on the tag).  Luckily both the clematis I purchased require the same pruning method.

With new clematis, you are supposed to prune the vine to 18 – 24” to allow for similar root and top growth.   See the following resource.  I am going to diverge a bit from this and allow my vines to flower and then prune back.

Call me impatient (I can be), I want to see this shade loving vine flower high above the other plants.

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