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The clematis is called the "queen of climbing plants" for nothing, because the climbing shrub has an immensely lush flower dress. It is quite easy to hibernate in winter. However, this requires the right steps and it must be remembered that not every plant is hardy. The plant expert describes how to optimally overwinter your clematis.


A total of over 300 different species are available as clematis. Many of them show varying levels of winter hardiness, while others are very sensitive to frost but can still overwinter. However, whether they are hardy or not, both varieties need some preparation for the winter and, above all, there are a few details to take care of during the cold months so that they get well into the coming spring.



If your "queen of the climbing plants" is not a hardy variety, it should be moved to its winter quarters by early autumn at the latest in order to protect it from the first frost. If you are not sure which species you have, as a precaution you should treat your specimen as non-hardy. It should be noted that evergreen varieties are usually not hardy. They all come from Australia and belong to Clematis microphylla. Caution is also advised with hybrids. Winter hardiness cannot always be clearly determined by breeding crosses. Examples of evergreen vines include the following varieties.

  • Clematis armandii 'Apple Blossom'
  • Clematis Early Sensation
  • Clematis Armandii Snowdrift
  • Clematis Avalanche


When the nights get longer and colder, it's high time for the non-hardy vine species to move to frost-protected locations. When choosing the best location, you should pay attention to the following details.

  • Ambient temperature: between 5 degrees Celsius and 10 degrees Celsius
  • Light conditions evergreen grapevine: bright daylight
  • no direct sunlight
  • alternatively use artificial plant light
  • Light conditions non-evergreen vines: light to dark
  • Humidity: dry
  • Optimal location: Garage, summer house or basement, possibly with west or east windows


The evergreen clematis continues to grow in winter, but the cold reduces its water requirements significantly, like all other species. Here it is advisable to carry out the thumb test regularly to check whether watering is necessary. If the soil surface can be pressed in less than two centimeters because it is hard, it should be watered a little. However, it is very important that the plant is not overwatered, but only kept slightly moist. If the soil is too wet, there is a high risk of mold during the winter.


For frost-sensitive plants, the last fertilization of the year should be done by the beginning of September at the latest. The evergreen clematis can be fertilized every two to three weeks until the end of October with a nutrient-rich complete fertilizer especially for evergreen plants. This favors winter growth, which is limited but still consumes nutrients. In the winter months there is a pause in fertilization until the fertilization season begins again in early spring.

To cut

All clematis species should not be cut after the flowering season or at the end of the year. Evergreen varieties are not harmed by pruning, but spring is generally the better time for many strong buds to form.


Repotting or transplanting should only take place if a frost-sensitive climbing queen is planted in the garden bed and has to move to a warmer winter quarters. This should be done by the end of September at the latest so that the plant can still establish itself before the onset of winter and the freezing temperatures. Repotting from bucket to bucket before wintering is not recommended. If this is necessary because the current bucket cannot be moved to the winter quarters, this should also be done in September.


Hardy clematis

The hardy grapevine species can overwinter outdoors during the cold winter months. However, depending on the variety, they have different levels of insensitivity to cold, as the following examples show.

  • Clematis alpina - hardy to minus 25 degrees Celsius
  • Clematis florida - hardy to minus 12 degrees Celsius
  • Clematis integrifolia and Clematis recta - each hardy to minus 25 degrees Celsius
  • Clematis montana - hardy to minus 20 degrees Celsius
  • Clematis vitalba - hardy to minus 37 degrees Celsius
  • Clematis viticella - hardy to minus 25 degrees Celsius


No matter what hardy species it is, the location should always meet the following conditions.

  • Ambient temperature according to the specified maximum cold resistance
  • sheltered from the wind
  • Light conditions: the colder it is, the less light is needed

Tip: If planted or potted plants cannot be placed sheltered from the wind, a transparent plastic film will help to protect the plant from cold winds.

watering and fertilizing

No fertilizer is given during wintering. The last fertilization should be done in September and start again in March. Watering is usually not necessary in winter. The cold air keeps the moisture from rain and snow in the ground for a long time, so there is no risk of drying out. However, if the clematis is under a canopy or similar, and the winter is quite mild with little moisture, it is advisable to regularly check the soil for dryness and, if necessary, water it slightly.

Tip: It is better to let the "queen of climbing plants" dry out more than keep them too wet, because if the weather changes and it then becomes well damp, there is an increased risk of mold for the roots.

To cut

Even the frost-resistant Clematis species are not cut in winter. In principle, the cut should be done once in spring or after flowering. This not only promotes growth, but also strengthens the vine for the next winter season. A pruning before hibernation and hibernation would demand too many reserves from the plant, which it would not be able to replenish before the onset of winter.


Hardy grapevine species are much better off in the garden bed than in a bucket, which is why they should not be transplanted from the bed into a pot for overwintering. The reverse is possible, but should be completed by mid-October at the latest. This gives the plant enough time before the first frost to get used to its new environment and soil conditions.

In the bucket

bucket hibernation

The hibernation of the clematis, which should hibernate in a bucket outdoors, is a little more complicated. In a pot, the plants are generally more exposed to the cold, which is why the minus temperature specifications always refer only to specimens planted in the bed. This is due to the fact that the roots in a bed are surrounded by earth on all sides and only penetrate to a limited extent due to the mass of earth or the density of the cold. This is different with the bucket posture. This is usually free from all sides and only a relatively thin wall/pot bottom thickness separates the outside cold/ground frost from the inner soil and thus from the roots. For this reason, special measures must be taken to ensure that even the most hardy clematis survives the winter well.

  • shelter from the wind, such as against a wall
  • Place bucket on insulating material such as Styrofoam, wood or cardboard
  • ensure good water drainage to avoid overwetting
  • Keep pot clematis only slightly moist if possible
  • cover the upper layer of soil with brushwood, fir branches or leaves
  • never use bark mulch during the winter - promotes mold growth

beginning of spring

end of winter/beginning of spring

Most of these vine species finish their winter season before spring begins, between March and April. The first hardy plants are already growing here. Frost-sensitive clematis varieties should only be put outside from their cold-protected winter quarters when no more frost is to be expected and the temperatures are constantly at least five degrees.

Repot/plant after the end of winter

If repotting is necessary or if replanting is desired, this should be done at the end of March at the earliest. If it is an early flowering clematis, transplanting or repotting will have no noticeable effect on bud growth and abundance of flowers.

watering and fertilizing

As a rule, the "queen of the climbing plants" does not need watering until around the end of April. Until then, it usually rains enough and the temperatures are not yet so warm that water evaporates or dries up faster. From May onwards, the demand for water then mainly increases. You should start fertilizing again in March. Early bloomers show up with a much more luxuriant blossom splendor if they are supplied with bloom fertilizer after the winter. Bedding plants appreciate an extra portion of compost.


It is not always easy to identify your own clematis as a hardy or frost-sensitive specimen. To be on the safe side, it is then advisable to spend the winter in a frost-protected room. While hardy vine species in the bed survive the winter well with little preparation, clematis in the bucket requires more effort because, despite winter hardiness, they could freeze to death without additional heat protection. But if you follow these care instructions and tips for overwintering, your "queens of the climbing plants" will cope well with the winter and will delight the garden with magnificent flowers and healthy growth the following year.

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