Growing Clematis (Leather Flowers)

Last Updated on April 16, 2024 by Real Men Sow

Leather Flowers or Clematis is the Queen of the Vines. They are a type of evergreen perennial plant that is native to Mexico and Central America. It’s best-known for its star-shaped, large-flowering purple blossoms on twining vines. 

Leather flowers have large, leathery leaves and blooms that range in color from white to purple. They are drought tolerant and prefer full sun to partial shade. Leather flowers are relatively easy to care for and can be grown in a variety of soil types. They are also a popular choice for dried arrangements.

Planting Leather Flowers

Soil Preparation

Clematis can tolerate a variety of soil types but they thrive in rich, fertile, well-drained soil. To improve the soil structure, you can add organic matter such as leaf mold or well-rotted horse manure to sandy or heavy soils.

How To Plant

Plant large-flowered hybrid cultivars (early and late-summer-flowering) with the top of the root ball 5-7.5cm (2-3in) below the soil surface. This allows new shoots to develop from below the ground and helps plants recover from clematis.

Plant winter and spring-flowering Clematis (including evergreens), late summer and autumn-flowering Clematis species and their cultivars like Clematis viticella or C. tangutica as well as herbaceous Clematis. The root ball should be just below the soil surface.

Planting against a fence or wall requires that you dig the hole so the root ball is approximately 30-45cm (1ft-18in), from the base. If there are gutters or overhanging roofs, the hole should be further out. If necessary, you can use a bamboo cane to assist the plant in reaching its permanent support.

Growing Your Leather Flowers as Trees/Shrubs

Place the clematis on either the windward or the forward side of the tree/bushes so that, as it grows, its stems will extend and are blown onto the trunk.

To reduce the competition for light, water, and nutrients, position the clematis at least 4m (4ft) from the base of any tree or shrub. This is especially important when the clematis is growing into a tree that has a dense root system such as a cherry or beech, or into conifer.

If necessary, use a bamboo cane to assist the clematis in reaching the trunk or branches. Clematis should not be used to cover fallen trees or stumps. They can quickly become hosts to honey fungus and other diseases.

Container Growing Leather Flowers

Use a pot that is at least 45cm (18in.) in depth and width and a soil-based potting compound such as John Innes No. 2

Clematis in containers need to be kept cool. To do this, top-dress the container with pebbles or plant low-growing plants such as summer bedding in the same pot. Or, position other containers on the sunward-facing side.

Container-grown clematis should not be placed right up against a fence or wall, especially if there are gutters or overhanging roofs. It can dry out very quickly. Place containers-grown clematis at least 30cm (1ft) from the base of a wall or fence, or in a more open area.

When Should You Plant Leather Flowers?

Clematis can be planted in spring, early- or mid-autumn. This is because warm and moist soil during these seasons aids root establishment. You should plant a container-grown flower as soon as you can. Water it often if it is not in full bloom.

Clematis can be planted at other times as well, but it is best to avoid planting in wet or frozen soil or during drought periods.


Clematis can grow in either sun or partial shade. However, they will flower in very shady areas. For herbaceous varieties, full sun is required. Some types of evergreens, both winter-flowering and spring-flowering, require a protected spot because they aren’t as hardy.

Climbing clematis require their roots to remain cool and moist. To do this, plant them in light shade, or give shading with other plants. Give your plant enough room to grow – clematis Vigorous have healthy stems that are strong and can be used for new growth.

You should consider how you will support the stems of your plant. Herbaceous Clematis can be grown best through support plants or in nearby shrubs. Climbing types will require something to twine around like a trellis or mesh attached on a fence or wall.

Leather Flowers Growing Conditions


These plants thrive in sunny areas that receive at least 6 hours of sunshine per day, but they must be kept well-ventilated. To keep the soil moist and cool, you can plant shallow-rooted plants as ground cover. A 2-inch mulch layer or two can be used. Some cultivars can still bloom in partial shade but most plants need bright sunlight to thrive.


These plants require watering every other week, which can be increased in hot weather or if they are potted.

Humidity and Temperature

They like moderate to high humidity, between 50 and 80%. These plants thrive in zones 4-9. They can withstand temperatures between 30-80degF to a minimum of 30degF, but most are not able to withstand frost and cold.


They like moist, well-drained soil that is neutral to slightly alkaline in pH. The soil should be kept cool, so a thick mulch or ground cover with low-growing plants are required. It is important that the soil be moist but not too wet as this can hinder growth and cause root disease.

Additional Care for Container-Grown Leather Flowers


These plants shouldn’t be repotted in spring because they don’t want their roots disturbed. Repotting them in summer or fall is better. If the plant is a vine, trim it down before you repot it. Transfer it to a larger container of soil and water well.

Leather Flowers Propagation

These plants can be propagated best by softwood cuttings that are taken in April and May. However, you can also divide mature plants that are well established. This is only possible when they are sufficiently mature.


Add a layer of sand to a well-draining container. A portion of a healthy stem should be cut off to about 4-6 inches. The stem should not be too soft or woody. The cutting should be inserted into the compost so that it can stand on its own. Place the container somewhere warm and indirect sunlight will allow it to dry. It may take up to five weeks for rooting.


If the plants are mature and well-established, you should only divide them. Trim the stems and leave around 4 buds per stem. If possible, dig deep into the roots to find the entire root ball. It is easier to remove a potted plant. Each segment should have a stem and roots. Place the segments in a container or garden and water them regularly.

Leather Flowers Pests and Diseases

Slugs and snails

These can attack young shoots frequently. Protect your plants with a copper mesh slug barrier.

Powdery Mildew

This is common for plants under stress. Mulching and proper watering can prevent this fungal disease. You can remove and dispose of any damaged stems or foliage, and then treat the plants using a fungicide.

Bacterial Slime Flux

This causes white, slimy, and smelly ooze from spring stems. This infection is more common in damaged items than in healthy ones. Preventing damage is the best way to prevent it. You can cut the stem at the bottom of the ooze to form new shoots in summer.


Large-flower varieties are most commonly affected by wilt. It is usually caused by another bacterial illness. This causes a rapid decline in health and leaves and stems turn black and die. To encourage healthy growth, remove infected foliage and stems.

Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.