Clematis - End of Season Care Tips: How to Prepare for Winter

Versatile, graceful and incredibly beautiful, the clematis is undoubtedly the world’s most loved vine. Clematis vines are gifted climbers and prolific bloomers with over 300 different species that offer a wide range of colors and fragrances. Whether they’re grown along a fence, sprawled over pergolas or cultivated in pots, clematis vines make for remarkable, breathtaking displays. Here, you’ll find valuable tips on winter care and protection of clematis.

How to prepare clematis for winter

Winter preparation must start with deadheading the plants in fall. Snip off the spent clematis flowers using a pair of clean, sharp shears. Also, make sure to remove any dead or damaged vines that you encounter.

Mulching clematis is an act of great importance, to be performed just as the ground begins to freeze. Use dry leaves, straw, bark and other organic materials and mulch to a depth of at least 2-3 inches around the plants’ base. The mulch acts as an insulator and protects the clematis roots from the freezing temperatures.

Pruning is an integral part of winter care of clematis. Prune the plants in late winter before the advent of new growth. Make sure you prune judiciously, leaving the vines at least 2-3 feet tall.

In areas subject to strong winds, it’s best to secure loose vines to the support structure using a piece of thread or twine. Water the plants regularly until they die back on their own. For clematis grown in containers, use of insulating materials like plastic sheets or bubble wrap is an easy and effective way to protect them from heavy frost.

The bare stems that clematis vines are reduced to in winter do present a disheartening picture but remember that it’s only temporal. For the same bare stems will rise gracefully next season and adorn the landscape with their stupendous beauty.

For more information on Clematis care, see tips and tricks from our Clematis Expert Deborah Hardwick.

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