Clematis for Containers

008 (3)Growing clematis is containers is a great way to enjoy their beauty up close and personal. Clematis grown in containers can enliven your patio, deck or porch, or fill in a bare spot in your garden. It may seem like a lot of work, but really it is very simple.

The first step is to procure the right container.

Criteria are:

- Winter proof ( so no terra cotta or porcelain) I use fiberglass, plastic if I like the looks of it and wood , like half wiskey barrels.025

-Large less than 18 x 18 . The bigger the pot the more room for root systemsAND the less watering you will have to do


Now, get good potting mix , keeping in mind that although your pot may big you are NOT going to add “filler” material( like styrofoam or milk jugs) at the bottom as is sometimes  suggested when you have large or deep containers. Clematis have large root systems and need the space.

Next is the fun part…shopping for the right clematis. Start by narrowing your search to those who grow 6-8 ft or less. Then look for ones that bloom over a long period of time, or bloom once in the spring and agin in the fall. Catalogues and online nurseries will have that info in their plant descriptions.Here are some suggestions:

Hummingbird Farm ( amoung others) sells a group of clematis bred in Eastonia called Kivistik. These clematis are winter hardy to zone 3 and grow to about 6 feet. The are PERFECT for containers. An added bonus to these clematis , is that like some of the vitacella and texensis group they  self-prune meaning they just die back all on their own in the winter so you just need to clear away any vines left in the spring ( they are usuallly unattcached).

Ray Envision , a clematis breeder , has also been very bust developing clematis varieties that bloom for an extended period and are shorter and perfect for containers.  A few of my favorites are Cezzannne, and Flueri. I had the chance to see Raymond’s exhibit at the Philadelphia Flower Show 2013 and the containers were amazing


( see photos to right)079086Plant your new clematis in the pot like you would in the ground : DEEPLY, and then water well. Clematis growing in containers will need   consistent watering and fertilizing throughout the summer months( especially water ).

When fall arrives and you are ready to close up shop for the winter you do not need to anything to the clematis pots to overwinter them. Sometimes I tip them onto their sides to prevent frozen soil clogging the drain holes, I don’t want the poor things to drown when the melting begins. Other than that I just leave them out in the elements ( and boy oh boy are there elements here!)

After a few years I check the root system. If it is pot bound or very crowded  I will root prune…or better yet I will take it out and plant it in the garden and try a new one in the pot.

For information on growing clematis indoors in containers click here002





One thought on “Clematis for Containers

  1. Meryl Mandell

    Hi Cheryl. I heard you speak last year at the Western MA master gardening symposium in Holyoke and was so excited after your talk I went out and bought five clematis. I overwintered the one I bought for a pot in my shed and just brought it back outside. I had covered the top with some salt marsh hay. I live near Amherst. Should I start fertilizing and watering it now or is it too early to do so? I want to make sure it thrives this year. Thank you for your inspiration. – Meryl


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

− 1 = zero

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>