Last updated on March 2nd, 2022
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The clematis is a great plant for those who seek a way to capitalise upon vertical spaces in their garden. Clematises will climb up trellises, fences and trees, plus they offer beautiful ranges of colour to otherwise bland areas. Evergreen vines will climb up against fences very easily and help to disguise the metal or wood of the fence while simultaneously adding privacy to your home. Planting a clematis against a fence to undertake this job is actually quite simple.
Planting the clematis
The first thing you need to know is how to plant your clematis. It is actually rather simple and they can be placed against your fence by planting the clematis in the ground or in a container. There are different types of clematis that are best grown in pots and those that are best grown in the ground. Which you choose is really contingent upon the garden in which they are growing.
If the ground, for example, is full of soil that is not conducive to good clematis strength, you might want to consider growing them in a pot so that you don’t have to try and amend the soil in your garden year after year. That being said, they will grow in most soil types so this is not usually a problem. Ideally, you want to plant it around 40cm away from the fence because the ground is often dry right next to the fence and it’s also a good idea to mulch and water in well.
How to grow clematis up a fence
Once the clematis has been planted you need only rudimentary equipment to train it to grow up your fence. Now, it might not bloom the very first year you plant it because the plant really needs to establish its root system before any flowers appear, however, it’s not uncommon to get flowers in the first year. So rest assured that if you don’t see any flowers the first season after you’ve planted, all is still well with your clematis.
When you are ready to help train your clematis up a fence, start by placing narrow sticks into the ground directly behind the stem and at an angle. The narrow sticks you use should angle backwards toward the fence itself. Even if the stem is very close to your fence, you perhaps planted it within centimetres of the fence itself (remember we advise you plant it at least 40cm away from the fence), having narrow sticks will still support the vines when they are young.
Once that is done, attach the vines loosely to the narrow sticks you have used with garden twine or plant clips. You want to allow the clematis some movement so that it can grow within and tie itself to the supports. Guide your vines towards the fence and up the sticks so that they grow in the direction you desire.
You will need to attach either trellis, horizontal wires or plastic netting to the fence to provide the clematis something to cling to.
Tying the clematis to the fence will likely be something that you need to do regularly as the clematis gets older and matures. Once the vine is long enough to climb up the post you can attach it to the fence post with the same garden twine or garden clips.
As it continues to grow you should secure additional vines using the same methods once you see they have branched off from the main stem. You might need to adjust them as necessary to give you the optimum coverage across your fence. For example, if you are trying to use your clematis to provide privacy, you might need to train multiple vines to grow up each of the posts so that you can get the optimum amount of privacy. If you are simply trying to get as much colour along the fence as possible you might want to spread the vines out more, at an upwards angle so that you can see all of the different flowers.
Attach the vines every quarter of a metre or so until they are mature enough to fully grip your fence and secure themselves on their own. This should take a season or so, after which, you will see that they will maintain their own connections.
One Final Tip
One tip to bear in mind is that you need to prune your clematis after it has finished flowering, however, how you undertake this depends on the variety and which pruning group it belongs to. This is something you typically do at the end of summer or the end of spring so that you maintain a well-manicured garden space. That being said, most clematis do not necessarily need to be pruned unless you are trying to cut it or thin it out so that it doesn’t drape over your fence. Otherwise if left to its own devices it will naturally drape.