How To Train a Clematis on a Tree Trunk

When I planted a climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris) near our maple tree, I also planted Clematis 'Perle d'Azur', thinking that it climb the tree using the hydrangea vine for support. I knew that Clematis climb by wrapping their wrists around small twigs, so other vines are wonderfully helpful for their successful climbing.

Here are some tips to get a Clematis started up your tree!:
-Choose a tree with rough bark, like a maple or oak. A smooth tree, like a cherry, with not get enough grip for your Clematis as it grows.
-Plant it on the shady side of the tree trunk and add compost. Mulch well. This enables you to give its roots the shade they need to start well.
-If you are not planting by another vine, then add a way for the Clematis to make it on to the tree bark. Use small bamboo canes, fishing line or twigs to make a scaffold for it to climb.
-Help the Clematis along by occasionally tucking its loose new growth into the rough bark of the maple.
It has turned out beautifully! I especially like the dreamy blue of Clematis 'Perle d'Azur' when viewed on the tree trunk against the blue sky. I hope yours does too!
Up, up and away.
Clematis 'Perle d'Azur' trained up our mature maple tree.
Clematis 'Perle d'Azur',
Julie @ Wife, Mother, Gardener
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  1 question
  • Barbara Barbara on Mar 30, 2020

    Can you explain a bit how to tie the fishing line to a tree in order to use as a something that the clematis can attach to- do I tie the fishing line around the tree horizontally in circles or does it need to be tied in a grid like chicken wire? I really don't want to use chicken wire- I don't like how it looks. thank you so much!

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  • There are three pruning groups for Clematis... but roughly speaking, if they bloom before June 21st, then do not prune in the autumn or spring, do it right after they bloom. If they are later than that, you prune them to 12 inches in the spring. :)
  • Elizabeth H Elizabeth H on May 11, 2016
    Thank you Julie!!