World's View Clematis

Retail Nursery

Caring for your Clematis in South Africa 

Clematis flowers twice in a season: October/November and in February/March and nothing can compare to their spectacular display of colour if cared for. The only winter flowering clematis is the Cirrhosa group (an evergreen variety).


They are vigorous growers, and depending on the group will require some pruning (see pruning advice below).



It is best to keep Clematis in pots until they are three years old before planting out into the garden. They can be grown in our full African sun with wonderful displays contrary to popular belief. Because of our intense heat they must be watered regularly so their soil remains moist (but not wet, Clematis do not like wet feet). Roots need to be kept cool and be planted deep so they do not get exposed through watering. Clematis are hardy and will survive even a black frost as they are in dormancy during winter.

Some varieties will fade more easily because of our intense sun, so it is advisable to plant them in semi-shade or where they will receive only morning sun (varieties such as Nelly Moser and Bees Jubilee).

Do not plant your clematis in a big pot immediately after purchase. Start in an 18cm pot and graduate slowly to 30cm, 35cm, 43cm and finally 58cm as your plant grows through the years.


When planting in either a pot or the ground, ensure your clematis is buried at least 8cm’s below ground level so the roots are never exposed and will ensure buds below the ground will grow should your plant wilt or when it has been pruned. Mulching with bark will aid in retaining moisture and coolness for the roots.


Should you plant clematis into the garden ensure they will have good drainage as they do not like waterlogged soil and could easily get root-rot and then die. You could even plant your clematis in the ground in its pot should you need to transplant it or wish to move it to do a different location in the future.

Feeding - Clematis are heavy feeders and will need to be fertilized every two weeks with a decent fertilizer during spring and summer (We use Nitrosol for preference). Always feed when the soil is moist. It is best not to feed when the flowers open as this shortens the flowering time, but once your blooms have died, resume feeding to encourage new growth for the next flowering.


Stop feeding when your plant goes into dormancy (during winter).

Watering - Because of our intense heat in South Africa it is advisable to water your clematis every day or at least every second day in summer. If a plant becomes dehydrated they will begin to brown on their leaf edges. If a dehydrated plant should not recover after watering, then this could be due to ‘Clematis Wilt’ (see below for more information on Wilt).


Clematis in pots need a lot of water. If there is good drainage then your plant will need to be watered every day during summer, and every second or third day in winter depending on the size of your pot.

Dormancy – All clematis (apart from the Cirrhosa varieties) go into dormancy in winter. In Autumn they will shed their leaves or go brown. This is perfectly normal. Your plant has not died and you will see many shoots when spring comes if you have planted your clematis correctly.


Pests and diseases


Clematis Wilt – Large-flowered varieties are prone to Clematis Wilt, but small-flowered clematis are generally resistant. If your plant should suddenly begin wilting and looking limp then it is likely it has Wilt. Your plant is not dying; merely cut off the wilted stems to the first healthy node and your clematis will grow back with its usual vigour. Ensure that you remove all the infected plant matter and disinfect your tools. 

Pests – Clematis gains the attention of the usual garden pests such as snails, slugs, aphids (especially on new growth), white fly and red spider. Apply a systemic insecticide to combat the problem such as Rose Care or any other reputable product.


Mildew – Clematis is not generally prone to mildew apart from Rooguchi. It is best to spray your clematis monthly as a preventative measure, and of course spray according your product of choice’s directions should your clematis get mildew.




New Clematis

It is best to hard prune all clematis during the first year of planting to ensure your plant forms a strong root system and will encourage new shoots to form under the soil, which have been buried when planted.


Thereafter, in the following two years you may choose to double prune because we have such a long growing season in South Africa. i.e. prune twice in a season; first in mid-November and again in July.
After the hard prune in July, continue to finger prune (breaking off the centre stem of new growth so the plants shoots out two side stems, which will ensure your clematis becomes bushy with a greater display of blooms) until the beginning of September for Group 2 varieties and two weeks later for Group 3.


  • Group 1  

(Armandii, Atragene, Cirrhosa, Fosteri, Montana groups and other evergreen clematis) 

In South Africa it is best not to hard prune Group 1 varieties as they flower on hard wood, and these varieties are such prolific growers they will have established a good root system within the first year because of our long growing season. A light pruning/tidying up immediately after the first year’s flowers have died is all that is needed.


  • Group 2  

(Early Large-flowered clematis) 

Hard prune down to the first pair of inter-nodes in mid-July.


  • Group 3  

(Late Large-Flowered clematis, Flammula, Florida, Tangutica, Texensis and Viticella groups

Hard prune down to the first pair of inter-nodes in mid-July.


Established Clematis


Once your clematis is four years or older and nicely established your pruning should be as follows:


  • Group 1  

(Armandii, Atragene, Cirrhosa, Fosteri, Montana groups and other evergreen clematis) 


These varieties just need a general tidying up as they flower on the previous year’s old wood. Merely prune off any unwanted growth or that which has grown too unruly. You can also lightly prune if a more compact plant is desired. If your plant does not flower or flowers poorly then avoid pruning at all and the flowering should improve.


  • Group 2 

(Early Large-flowered clematis)  


These varieties flower on old and new wood, so it is best to keep some old wood, especially for those varieties that have double flowers on old wood. Simply prune any weak growth and dead leaves from the stems, then tie the bare stems to a stake for support. A complete hard prune every few years might be necessary on older plants if they begin to look tired and need a shot of rejuvenation. If a hard prune is required then prune the stems between half a metre and a metre before tying up the remaining stems.


  • Group 3  

(Late Large-Flowered clematis, Flammula, Florida, Tangutica, Texensis and Viticella groups)  


These are varieties which only flower on new growth and need to be cut down almost to ground level in mid-July.



It is advisable to dead-head your clematis once the blooms have died. While the seed-heads are attractive, it is best not to allow them to form as your plant will concentrate all its energy on producing seeds rather than on new growth and stronger roots.