Climbing Vines

Requirements:  Climbing vines require an area that will have at least 6 hours or more of direct sunlight. The plant, depending on the variety, will grow upright six to twelve feet. However, clematis can only grow as tall as the trellis arbor or support that you have given it. For example, if your trellis is eight feet tall and the clematis you choose grows twelve feet, it would simply hang over and grow down the other side. Clematis roots need shade to prevent the roots from drying out. Mulching the base of the plant not only helps to keep the weeds down but more importantly will keep the moisture in, especially in a hot dry summer.


Soil Preparation: Moist, well-drained soil is needed. Prepare your hole at least one foot deep and mix the soil with 50% peat moss or well-rotted manure. Backfill the hole with the amended soil and plant your clematis or climbing vine so the top of the root ball is just below ground level covering the first set of eyes. The plant should be mulched and kept moist, not wet, especially during the first growing season. Fertilize every four weeks during the growing season with a well-balanced liquid fertilizer.


Support:  The main stem of the climbing vine must have firm support, otherwise wind damage may occur. As the newly planted plant produces new growth, it should be carefully trained and tied into position.


Pruning:  The first year: All newly planted vines should be pruned down to at least twelve inches the first April-May after planting. This is very important, and you will be rewarded with a more bushy, compact plant, full of flowers. If no pruning is done, the plant will still grow and flower, but you will not enjoy the same display you would if pruning was done properly.



Clematis Wilt is a disease that affects large flowering hybrid clematis. It usually occurs when plants are under extreme stress like hot, dry weather conditions. Once disease symptoms show (yellowing of the foliage) the plant will wilt to the ground. Usually, within two weeks, new shoots appear and the plant will continue to grow. There is no control for clematis wilt, however it rarely kills the plant. If clematis wilt occurs, cut back the plant to within twelve inches of the soil and discard the infected plant material. This disease will spread from plant to plant so it is very important to discard all infected plant material. Phyton 27 applied as a drench and reapplied every two to three weeks as a heavy spray, has been effective in stopping the spread of the disease. Spraying every two weeks with an all purpose fungicide such as Clearys or 2Yban are also effective in disease prevention.


Powdery Mildew is another disease that affects clematis. It is most prevalent in August when the days are hot and sunny and nights cool and clear. Spraying plants every two weeks with a fungicide labeled for mildew or Daconil and 2Yban, will easily control the disease. It may also help to avoid watering late in the day. Under severe infestations, one spray of Pipron, followed three days later with Rubigan will clean up the disease.

Botrytis is another disease that can attack the base of the plant. It occurs when the foliage remains wet for long periods of time. If foliage is really dense, it will attack the main stems and the symptoms will resemble those of clematis wilt. Spraying the base of the plant with a fungicide labeled for botrytis every two weeks will help in controlling this disease.