Is Clematis Sun Or Shade Plant? (Clematis Light Requirements)

Not sure whether clematis sun or shade plant? We dive deeper into the clematis light requirements to see what happens if clematis gets too much or too little light.

Is Clematis Sun Or Shade Plant (Clematis Light Requirements)

Adding colorful clematis vine is a good option if you have an old fence or wall that looks odd in your garden and prefers an immediate revamp. However, it is necessary to understand whether the conditions in the spot are suitable for the plant to thrive.

The first thing to check for is the light. But, to analyze whether a particular spot gets enough light for clematis, you must know how much light the plant needs in the first place, right?

Let’s answer the important question, is clematis sun or shade plant? 

Clematis is considered to be a plant that loves the full sun. Most of the cultivars prefer full sun, but there are quite a few varieties that thrive only in partial shade. It is necessary to know the light tolerance of the specific variety that you’re growing, otherwise, you might end up hurting your clematis with too much or too little light. 

Hold on before purchasing a pack of random clematis seeds. Instead, analyze the conditions properly and buy the right variety for your garden depending on the sunlight.

This article explores everything you need to know about clematis light requirements. We cover what varieties to buy for part shade and full sun, and what happens if your clematis receives too much or too little light.

Full Sun & Partial Shade Varieties

Most of the clematis vines grow well in both full sun and part shade conditions. However, in tropical regions with high temperatures, a lot of pale-colored clematis varieties might have a bleaching or fading effect on the flowers due to too much light and heat. Similarly, some varieties showed less number of flowers in shade and they preferred full sun to display their full potential.

Let’s see some of the full sun and partial shade clematis varieties you can try.

Full Sun Varieties:

  • Clematis florida
  • Clematis ‘Etiole Violette’
  • Clematis ‘Kingfisher’
  • Clematis ‘Princess Dianna’
  • Clematis vitticella
  • Clematis ‘Romana’

Part Shade Varieties: 

  • Clematis alpina
  • Clematis montana ‘Elizabeth’
  • Clematis tanguitica
  • Clematis ‘Polish Spirit’
  • Clematis Prince Charles’
  • Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’
  • Clematis ‘Fair Rosamond’

Signs Of Clematis Too Much Light

First of all, there is no such thing as too much sunlight for clematis plants because most varieties grow well in both full sun and shade. However, if you happen to live in a place with full sun and high temperature, then your clematis plant may show signs like fading of flowers and leaves, stunted growth, etc.

We’ll elaborate on each of these signs so that you can easily find whether your plant is getting too much light or not.

1. Fading of flowers

As we’ve already said, there are a lot of clematis varieties that prefer shade over the full sun. 

If you have planted a shade-loving clematis vine in a full sun spot, then the first sign to look for is the flower color. If the flowers seem to be faded or bleached, then there is a high chance that it is getting way too much lighter than their requirement. 

Usually, clematis varieties with pale flowers struggle in full sun, especially in tropical climates.

2. Stunted growth

The plant cells are very delicate and they have an upper limit when it comes to sunlight tolerance. If the heat and light are so harsh for the majority of the day (read more than 8 hours), then there is a high chance that the plant cells get damaged.

When the cells get damaged, the rate of photosynthesis and other plant functions starts to decrease, and eventually, the plant goes uses all of its existing energy to stay alive which forces them to go dormant.

3. Leaves curling & wilting

We already saw that too much light and heat can cause cell damage in clematis leaves. At some stage, to prevent further cell damage, the leaves may curl away from the source. You’ll see wilted, drooping, and curled leaves as a result.

Most of the time, curly leaves are accompanied by discoloration in leaves. They turn yellow and brown, which is termed sunburnt leaves.

Leaves curling and wilting are one of the commonly seen signs of many clematis problems and diseases. However, if the wilting is seen mostly during the hottest time of the day, then you can be pretty sure that sunlight is causing the issue.

Signs Of Clematis Too Little Light

The first sign that your clematis plant isn’t getting enough light is the number of flowers becoming less and less even in the peak of the flowering season. Other symptoms include plants that sag toward the light, leaves that curl upward, smaller leaves, poor and stunted growth, and occasionally too much soil moisture.

Let’s go through each of these signs in detail.

1. Stops blooming

Producing flowers needs a lot of energy. If you place your clematis in a complete shade with very limited sunlight exposure, it cannot generate enough energy to trigger long seasonal blooms.

If you recently moved your clematis to a shadier spot, initially the plant might produce flowers due to the existing energy reserves. However, once the energy depletes, the flower density or number of flowers starts to decrease. At some point, the entire plant stops producing any more blooms.

Clematis vines, unlike pothos or monstera, are typically planted for their gorgeous blossoms rather than the leaves. Therefore, if your clematis stops flowering, you must fix it immediately.

2. Leaves curling

In the previous section, we’ve seen that clematis leaves curl downwards as a result of too much light. On the other hand, the exact opposite will happen when the plants are not receiving enough light.

To be precise, clematis plants in full shade might have leaves curling upwards. It is because even the individual leaves of your clematis plant try to move up so that it can get as much light as possible.

Even though clematis leaves curling downwards is considered to be a sign of too little light, sometimes too much light can also cause the same. So, before moving your plant, make sure to analyze all other symptoms.

3. Poor leggy growth

Not just clematis vines, all plants grow towards the light source for the most part.

As we already mentioned, when your clematis vines do not get enough light, they will not be able to carry out regular plant processes. To counter that, plants try to move toward the light source.

Since they have pretty low energy generation capability, they use all of it to get as high as possible which leads to thin stems with very few leaves in between. This kind of appearance is called leggy growth.

4. Always moist soil

Similar to how dry soil indicates too much light, consistently moist soil indicates that clematis is receiving insufficient light.

It is a known fact that sunlight evaporates the water present in the soil. Since clematis plants are thirsty most of the time and prefer to stand in the hot sun, ideally there should not be water left after a few hours. But, if you see too much moisture even after a few hours, there might be a chance that the plant is not getting enough light.

Damp soil may not be the result of inadequate lighting alone, just like in the case of all the other symptoms. It may also be influenced by a variety of other variables, including overwatering, inadequate pot drainage, old soil, root rot, etc. 

Therefore, you must be certain that the other issues are not present before concluding that it is caused by inadequate light.


To back up the information we provide in our articles, the Plantials team only uses high-quality sources published in peer-reviewed university or scientific research journals.

  1. A Preliminary Study On The Introduction And Cultivation Of Clematis, Acta Botanica Yunnanica, Europe PMC.
  2. Clematis For The Northeastern States, Harvard University, Via Jstor
  3. Clematis Wilt, Annual Report Glasshouse Crops Research Institute, Via Cab Direct.
  4. An Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Clematis, Book By Mary Toomey & Everett Leeds, British Clematis Society.

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