Myth 1: Plant their head in the sun and feet in the shade.
Clematis 'Duchess of Albany'
Photo/Illustration: Bill Johnson
Clematis don’t need shaded roots any more than any other plant. Most wholesale nurseries I have visited over the years grow clematis in full sun. It’s their business to grow plants. If they felt it would improve their clematis crop production, wouldn’t you think they would be shading the base of the containers?
Using other plants to cover a clematis’s roots can actually impede the vine’s growth. I nearly choked several of my plants a few years ago by “shading their feet” with bacopa. After that near-fatal experience, I started removing plants from the base of my clematis, and the results have been positive. So if your clematis are not at their best, you might want to eliminate the plants at their base. Being a great companion plant, clematis are socializers, but their roots are loners.