Clematis vines can struggle if they’re moved incorrectly. As such, it’s vital to only transplant if it’s absolutely necessary. Even then, this will be a stressful process for the plant. In my experience, however, clematis is a fast-growing vine that will eventually recover if you take the necessary steps and precautions through the process. Here’s everything you need to know about when and how to transplant clematis in your garden successfully.
The Best Locations for Transplanting Clematis
Before you transplant your clematis, it’s a good idea to find the best location. Clematis vines are native to China, Japan, and other areas in the Northern Hemisphere. As such, most clematis varieties grow best in USDA Zones 4 to 9.
Most clematis varieties thrive in full sun or partial shade. Varieties that like full sun require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. I find that these vines will struggle to flower well in full shade. These plants can grow in most garden aspects, although east and southeast-facing areas are ideal.
Clematis vines require fertile, well-draining soils that can still hold some moisture. They can tolerate a range of soil types, including clay, chalk, sand, and loam. They also prefer neutral to slightly acidic soils with pH levels between 6.0 and 7.0.
When to Transplant Clematis
Transplanting your clematis at the right time of year minimizes the stress the plant will suffer. In my experience, early spring is the best time, although fall also works well. The vines go dormant during the winter before producing new growth in the spring.
Transplanting a clematis in early spring is ideal because the plant is almost ready to start growing again. This means it’ll adapt more quickly to a new location. Transplanting in the fall allows the plant to reestablish its roots before winter dormancy sets in.
Aim to transplant on a cool, overcast day rather than a hot day. This will reduce the amount of stress that your clematis suffers.
How to Transplant Clematis
Transplanting a clematis sounds daunting, but it’s reasonably straightforward if you do it correctly. Here’s my quick guide detailing how to transplant a clematis;
- If you’re transplanting during early spring, cut your clematis back to half its original size before transplanting. This will help your clematis recover more effectively over the following year.
- Dig a hole that’s approximately as wide and as deep as the root system of your clematis. You may need to dig down several feet. Add some organic matter, such as compost to the soil.
- Carefully dig up your clematis and move it to its new position. Try to keep the majority of the existing root system attached. Ensure that the plant’s crown sits approximately 3 inches below the soil.
- Fill in around your clematis with a mix of soil and compost. Firm the soil down gently to remove air pockets.
- Give your clematis a generous drink of water. Add support such as a wire frame or bamboo canes if required.
Caring for a Transplanted Clematis
After transplanting your clematis, monitor it carefully. Keep the soil moist for the next few weeks. Wait a year before fertilizing your clematis again.
Clematis vines should take between one and three years to fully recover from being transplanted. Your clematis will likely take one or two years to flower again.
How Do You Dig Up and Replant a Clematis?
Dig up the clematis on a cool day in fall or early spring. Dig a large hole to accommodate the roots and carefully relocate the plant.
What is the Best Time to Move a Clematis?
The best time to move a clematis is early spring or fall. Clematis go dormant during the winter, so transplant them on either side of this dormant period.
Is Clematis Better in Pots or the Ground?
Most types of clematis grow well in the ground. Group 3 clematis varieties are the best ones to grow in pots because they’re easy to manage. Always grow clematis in fertile, well-draining soils that still retain some moisture.
Transplant clematis vines in early spring or fall while the plant is still dormant. Choose a new site that provides plenty of full sun and fertile, well-draining soil. Your clematis will recover within one to three years.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.