Plant of the Week ~ Clematis (Old man’s beard)

Clematis ‘The President’

If you’re looking for a climber to plant in your garden then Clematis may be the plant for you. With a large variety of bloom colours and forms to suit many different growing spots within your garden, this species has something to add to every garden. Additionally, pollinators will make great use of the flowers so you can have beautiful flowers and help wildlife at the same time.


Clematis bloomed into popularity during the Victorian era, when plant hunting became a popular past time of the upper classes. C. viticella was of the first types of clematis imported into England from Spain in 1569, closely followed by C. cirrhosa, C. integrifolia and C. flammula.
Sadly Victorians did not understand the disease wilt, which lead to most commercial stocks being decimated, it was not until the end of WW2 that commercial propagation of Clematis took off.


Clematis species can thrive in full-sun or partial shade, though herbaceous varieties prefer full-sun. As for growing media they favour moisture retentive but well-drained soil. When planting Clematis it is important to plant them deep in fertile soil as this helps to ensure the roots are kept cool and can prevent root stress for the plant. Root stress occurs when Clematis are planted in spots that are exposed, shallow and dry, this can lead to poor growth. Be sure to position the plant near to a surface it can climb up, whether that be a trellis, bamboo canes, an arch or a wall otherwise the plant will cease growth. It’s also a good idea to mulch around the base of the plant after planting to protect the soil from drying out and also to provide a slow release of nutrients for the Clematis to feed on throughout the growing season.


With such a large range of Clematis cultivars available, you can have a variety flowering in every season of the year. Below is just a small selection of the species available.

Clematis armandii

Clematis armandii - RHS
Clematis armandii – RHS

This evergreen cultivar provides wonderful star-like white flowers in spring while the dark green, glossy trifoliolate leaves persist through the winter months.

Clematis flammula

Clematis flammula - RHS
Clematis flammula – RHS

Another cultivar with glossy leaves, however this one produces striking panicles of pure white flowers from late summer to autumn.

Clematis serratifolia

Clematis serratifolia – RHS

Whether it be scent, soft yellow flowers with purple stamens or serrated leaves, this Clematis has it. Once flowering has ended in late autumn, silky seed-heads follow.


When it comes to pruning Clematis there are three different pruning groups based on flowering time and the age of flowering wood.

Pruning Group 1

Species in this pruning group are early flowering on shoots produced during the previous summer. Regular pruning isn’t required for this group but if pruning is desired, the best time to carry it out is after flowering in mid- to late spring when there is no longer a risk of frost.

Pruning Group 2

Cultivars in this group are large-flowered and flower in May to June on short shoots sprouting from the previous years growth. These cultivars can be pruned in late spring or early winter and after the first flush of flowers.

Pruning Group 3

This group is for the late-flowering cultivars which produce flowers from the current seasons growth. New growth sprouts from the base of the plant each year, so can be cut back on a regular basis. Pruning should be carried out in late winter or early spring when buds start to show signs of growth.

With a variety for every purpose and season, why not grow a Clematis or two in your garden?

Wildlife & Eco Gardens can help you create a vibrant wildlife garden for you and your family to enjoy all year round. Contact us for more information.


Leaflet – one part of a compound leaf

Panicle – a loose branching cluster of flowers

Trifoliate – with three leaflets