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Can I move an established clematis into a pot?

Hello, we recently bought a new house which doesn't have much going for it in the way of colour in the garden - with the exception of some beautiful clematis plants. We are going to be doing quite a lot of work to the outside space and will need to move the clematis from their current position. Unfortunately the space they will be going to won't be complete for a while and so I wondered if it's possible to dig them up and plant into post (with supports of course) in the interim? If this is possible, when is the best time of year to do this?

I've been doing some reading up and sounds like they can be quite tricky to move with a complicated root system.

Thanks in advance!


  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,993
    edited March 2022
    Hello @spudgun_meggie, I don't see why it wouldn't work, I've done it before but you will need quite large pots, plastic ones will do fine, the larger the better at least 40 cms diameter. If you're quick you can move them now. Water them really well the night before, prune them down to about 30 cms,  get some John Innes No.3 compost for the pots, then dig all around the rootball at least 30 cms away from the stems and see if you can ease it up. It may take two of you to lift it, they are usually quite heavy. Don't worry if some roots snap. Plant it in the pot at the same soil or a little bit lower, back fill around the edge and then water it well again. Put it against a house wall in the shade for a couple of weeks while it recovers, then it can go in a sunnier spot. They will need a lot of water (twice a week, a full watering can full, if it's very hot, water every day.

    You've got nothing to lose if they have to be moved - they'll either survive or not.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • FireFire Posts: 18,121
    Recieved wisdom seems to say that we can move mature plants from pots to the ground but not from ground to pots. I don't think an older, deep grown clem would be happy put in a pot. But you might be able to keep it alive in a big container until the work is done and then put it back in the ground. Or plant them elsewhere in the garden for a while.
  • mikeymustardmikeymustard Posts: 495
    edited March 2022
    Like Lizzie27 says: you've got nothing to lose so do it now before they get going for the year! Prune them back, try to disturb the rootball as little as possible, water well (like you would potting anything really) and give them a seaweed feed. When you replant them in the ground, they might take a year to find their feet again
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    A good deal will depend on how large they are. If they've been growing there for years and years, your chances are poor and I wouldn't bother, myself. But if they are small and manageable, it's worth a try.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    Yes - is the short answer, but it depends on the type, and how long they've been there, as to how they'll manage. 
    Some mature plants can be divided without them dying. I've done that with Group 3s. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • And if it all goes bluetits up then its an excuse to go buy some new clems! 😀
  • Thanks so much for the replies. I’ll give it go and see what happens. If I don’t move them we’ll lose them anyway so might as well try!
  • When I've tried to dig mine up the roots have always been a total nightmare

    Good luck!
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    You can slice through large root systems, and in most cases it won't be a problem.
    If you have to move them anyway, you have nothing to lose. Just make sure the pots will accommodate the roots well enough  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,565
    It's worth trying, go for as large a pot as possible and keep it in as much shade as possible. You could do a bamboo cane wigwam to give some temporary support, but the plant won't mind if it just flops along the ground. Now is probably the perfect time for group 3 clematis as they are just stirring into growth - other types will probably be OK too. I've accidentally dug up a part 3 clematis, the root system seemed extremely tough!
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