How To Grow Clematis In Pots (Complete Guide)

Clematis is a perennial vine that blooms flowers in many different colors. These blooms last a long time and many gardeners plant them along trellises and fences.

But it is possible to grow clematis in pots, too. Use our handy guide to easily grow clematis in containers and tips on how to get the best blooms.

How To Grow Clematis In A Pot

The easiest way to start growing clematis in a pot is to buy a starter plant from the store.

All you have to do is prepare the roots before planting and you’re ready to go.

1. Pick The Right Container

You want your clematis to grow year after year, so choosing the right pot or container is crucial. You want a pot a few inches wider than the root system at maturity.

A 24-inch pot is a good choice, especially one made of terracotta, stone, or thick plastic. These materials will conduct heat slowly, which keeps the soil from drying out.

Metal or thin plastic containers and any dark colors will absorb and conduct too much heat for your clematis. In addition, choose a container with plenty of drainage. 

2. Place The Pot In An Area With Some Sun

In general, clematis does best with about six hours of sun each day. But you can find varieties that can tolerate more shade, like alpine clematis.

Almost all varieties will tolerate a mix of sun and shade, though, so when in doubt, plant in partial shade. A good rule of thumb is to give your clematis at least four hours of sun each day.

3. Soak And Plant Your Clematis Starter

Using warm water, soak the roots of your clematis starter for an hour or two before planting. This will rehydrate the roots and give them a better start in the soil.

While the roots soak, fill your planter with well-draining soil. Clematis does well in sandstone-type soils or chalky soils. You can also add compost for more nutrients.

When the roots and soil are ready, dig a hole in the soil. It should be deep enough that the top of the roots will be two to three inches below the surface. Then cover the whole back over.

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4. Cover The Soil With Pebbles

Although partial to full sun is good for clematis blooms, the roots are a different matter. They need shade no matter which clematis variety you plant. Clematis roots don’t respond well to dry and hot soil.

So, even if you place your clematis in full sun, cover the top of the soil with pebbles or gravel. This will keep the roots cool while still allowing the leaves and blooms to get all the sun they want.

5. Water Your Clematis Every Day

Add water to your clematis container until the soil is moist but not soaking. Then, continue watering your new clematis every day until it’s established for a few seasons.

Once the clematis is fully established, you can cut back on the watering to every couple of days. Because you’re growing it in a pot, keep an eye on your clematis in dry or hot weather.

It can be harder for potted plants to retain their moisture. Pay close attention between April and October so that the soil doesn’t dry out.

Tips And Tricks To Grow The Best Potted Clematis

Fertilizing Your Potted Clematis

Potted plants can’t always get the nutrients they need naturally.

So, feed your potted clematis each month of spring and summer with a general-purpose liquid fertilizer.

Disease And Pest Prevention

It can be tricky to find the right balance of moisture for clematis in a pot. Too much water can cause root rot, but too little will lead to weak blooms and wilted leaves.

Pay close attention to your clematis’s soil as you water. Don’t water it so much that water pours out of the bottom of your container each day. But it should still be moist all the way through the pot.

If you see a white, powdery substance on your clematis’s leaves, it has powdery mildew. Believe it or not, household mouthwash can actually get rid of that for you!

Mouthwash can also remove and prevent aphid infestations, which can weaken your clematis.

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Add A Trellis To Your Clematis Pot

Some varieties of clematis are climbers and need extra support in your pot. Even smaller varieties can look nicer with a little support.

You can place the pot next to a fence or trellis and allow the clematis to grow around that. Or you can put a stake or cage directly into the soil of your pot.

Whichever method you choose, carefully attach some of the vines to your support with wire. Don’t tie it too tightly so you avoid damaging the vine.

Commonly Asked Questions

How Tall Do Clematis Grow In Pots?

With proper care and enough sunlight, clematis in pots can grow as tall as those plants in a garden bed.

If you’re growing your clematis in a small area like an apartment, a shorter variety may be the way to go.

Here are a few popular varieties of clematis for pots and how tall they can grow:

Clematis VarietyScientific NameAverage Height
PaulineClematis macropetala “Pauline”5-8 feet
Markham’s PinkClematis macropetala “Markham’s Pink”8-13 feet
Alpine ClematisClematis alpina5-8 feet
Solitary ClematisClematis integrifolia1.5-3 feet
Hairy Clematis/Lion’s BeardClematis hirsutissima2 feet

How Do You Store Potted Clematis For The Winter?

Insulation and protection against root rot are two of the most important factors for protecting your clematis pots during winter.

If your clematis is sitting directly on a deck or porch, raise it with flat stones or planks of wood. This will keep the drainage holes clear from any ice that may form if it’s directly on your deck.

If ice clogs the drainage holes, your soil will stay too wet and possibly cause the roots to rot.

You should also insulate your clematis against the freeze/thaw cycle. Since most clematis varieties like the sun, any freezing that happens overnight will thaw the next day. Then, they freeze again during the night.

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This cycle can weaken your clematis’s roots and damage the overall plant. To prevent this cycle, add a few inches of insulating mulch on top of your soil.

You can also build up bags of leaves or mulch around the outside of the pot. Finally, simply moving your clematis to a shadier area can break this damaging cycle.

You can move it back after the final frost to return it to its full-blooming glory.

Can You Grow Two Clematis In One Container?

Clematis root systems can be complicated and grow very large. If you try to plant more than one clematis in one pot, the roots may become too large for the pot.

They’ll also likely fight for nutrients, leaving you with multiple underperforming plants.

That being said, if your container is very long, you may be able to plant more than one clematis. The ideal distance to prevent overcrowding and encourage airflow is two feet.

In Summary

Clematis plants are beautiful perennial plants that can bloom from spring until fall. And even though they’re vining plants, they’re easy to grow in pots with a little love and care.

Make sure your potted clematis has enough sun, moist soil, and vertical support, and you’ll have a beautiful container plant for years to come.

Lucy Young

Meet Lucy, a seasoned gardener with a green thumb and a wealth of experience cultivated over 10 years in her own backyard oasis. Now, she channels her passion into writing, sharing invaluable gardening knowledge on her website. From nurturing plants to expert pruning techniques, Lucy's articles are a treasure trove for both seasoned enthusiasts and budding gardeners. Join her on this leafy journey as she sprinkles insights, tips, and tricks to help you create your own flourishing paradise. Get ready to dig into her gardening wisdom and unlock the secrets of a thriving garden!

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