Most clematis are vigorous, climbing vines. Sometimes referred to  as ‘heavy feeders”, most nutrition is provided by the soil that you plant your clematis in. Fertilizer helps growth and blooms but can not replace planting in good soil. As with most plants, soil, water and sunlight are the basic requirements, but look at fertilizer as an added ingredient that can work with the basics for faster growth and more blooms.

With all fertilizer, making a note of what and when used, as well as following mixing or application directions carefully helps ensure the results you are seeking.

N-P-K refers to the ratio of important elements in a fertilizer or soil amendment. N stands for nitrogen, which is responsible for strong stem and foliage growth. P is for phosphorus, which aids in healthy root growth and flower and seed production. K stands for potassium, which is responsible for improving overall health and disease resistance.

Fertilizing Clematis Flowers Growing in Containers

Container culture of clematis is easy. Because plants are drawing only from the soil in the container, regular feeding is recommended. Fertilizers that you mix in or dilute with water are a good  choice. These are sold in concentrated liquids or powder forms. Formulas with a higher P or phosphorus, such as a 10  30 20 ratio are an excellent choice as they encourage the right amount of stem and leaf growth and provide a boost to help bloom production.

More Tips

  • Fertilizing your containered clematis on a monthly basis is recommended.
  • Pre water the plant well, then water again with the diluted or dissolved fertilizer that you have mixed in a watering can. By pre watering you have allowed the plant to begin drinking and you also ensure a more even distribution of the fertilizer.
  • Spray washing off leaves if any fertilizer splashed on them is a good practice as sunny weather or dry conditions may cause the leaves that were splashed to discolor.
  • In the later summer or early fall when the plant is not preparing to bloom, a balanced formula such as 20 20 20 is a good choice.

Fertilizing Clematis Flowers Growing in the Ground

In-ground clematis have the benefit of drawing from nutrients carried through the soil from a wide area and usually need less fertilizer. Your amended soil is your first nutritional defense, no topical applications can make up for clematis planted in poor soil.

Periodically applying a top dressing of composted organic material is suggested, as well as fertilizing your clematis in the spring and in the fall.

More Tips

  • Time release formulas for perennial plants can be applied to direction, we recommend formulas that are releasing nutrients for 3 months vs. a longer duration time release. Apply to direction to the soil around the clematis and lightly turn into the soil.
  • Granular fertilizer may be applied to the soil and watered in to manufacturer instructions.
  • The basic guideline is a balanced fertilizer such as 10 10 10 or 20 20 20 in the summer to fall, and in the spring use a higher P,or phosphorus, ratio such as 10 30 20 , to encourage the best blooms possible.


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