How to Care for a Clematis in Winter Time

Hardy clematis vines survive most winter weather.
Hardy clematis vines survive most winter weather. (Image: Images)

Clematis vines climb over fences and trellises, providing a cascade of color during the summer months. These deciduous woody vines die back after winter frost, providing no winter interest in the garden until they begin putting on new growth in spring. While most clematis varieties grow well in most climates, they do benefit from from some protection from freezing in colder areas. Winter is also the time to prune and clean up some clematis vine varieties.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Garden twine
  • Mulch

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Prune out any damaged or broken vines in fall. Only remove damaged vines, and do not prune the plants completely.

Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch, such as bark or straw, around the base of the vines once the ground begins to freeze. Mulch insulates the soil and protects clematis roots from winter temperature fluctuations.

Tie loose vines to the support with a length of garden twine. High winter winds can dislodge the clematis if it isn't fully secured to the trellis.

Prune late-flowering and large-flowered clematis in late winter before new spring growth begins. Cut vines on large-flowered varieties back to the topmost leaf buds. Cut back late-flowering varieties to a height 2 to 3 feet. Early flowering types are pruned in summer after flowering and not in winter.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep clematis well-watered until the plants die back naturally in late fall. Plants that have suffered no drought stress are more likely to overwinter successfully.


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