Most of the many varieties of clematis are deciduous vines that have deep green finely-divided foliage and spectacular flowers. The plants grow very fast during the spring and summer, and then go dormant when temperatures drop. Among the deciduous vines, there are two distinct types: spring flowering and fall flowering vines.
Clematis need full sun on their tops, and shade on their roots. You can place vines next to a fence or some vertical support on which they can reach up to the sun. Dig a hole that is at least as deep as and twice as wide as the plant's root ball. Amend regular garden soil with some mulch to lighten and enrich it and pat down the soil around the plant once you have back-filled the hole with the planting mix. Provide shade for the roots by overplanting the area around the plant's base with ground cover, or placing flat rocks around it. Alternately, strategically place low-growing shrubs around the plant so that they cast shade on the root area.
Fertilize and water clematis heavily in the spring and early summer. When you prune the vine depends on what type of clematis you have. Spring and early summer bloomers produce flowers on old growth -- the growth produced the year before. Prune spring bloomers right after they finish flowering, cutting back new plants to about one foot high. Cut back year-old or more mature plants to about two feet. You can prune summer and fall-blooming clematis in late fall, or early spring, before your plant sets out new growth. When pruning either spring or fall-blooming clematis, always preserve flower buds that are tucked away under a leaf. Evergreen clematis such as Clematis armandii gets very large and can bloom from March until May. Trim the vine to control rampant growth and to prevent buildup of dead woody material that can become a fire hazard over time.