allan becker*garden guru

Clematis AllanahTrellised walls, latticed fences and arches are prominent features in many flower gardens. Some are covered with climbing roses, some with flowering vines such as Clematis, and some with both. The combination of Roses and Clematis blooming together is beautiful. However, I am not inclined to train Roses to climb on trellises. More about that further down.

Clematis Comtesse de BouchardMature Clematis vines are visually and emotionally satisfying for the perennial gardener because they supply a wall or a pillar of colored blooms whose visual impact cannot be duplicated by any other perennial. That is because they bloom at, and above, eye level and they are densely floriferous for the garden space they occupy.

Clematis Gypsy QueenWhen a neighbor installed a brown, latticed privacy fence to separate our respective properties, I intended to plant climbing roses to camouflage this unsightly divider.

Clematis JackmaniiThen, fellow garden blogger, Eileen, at Gatsby’s Gardens reminded me that training a climbing rose bush was a daunting effort. She cautioned me that the thorns on the branches of the rose climbers might gash a gardener’s skin, even when hands are gloved. Her information was enough to turn me away from rose climbers. I decided to focus on Clematis vines, instead.

Clematis Pink fantasyChoosing Clematis can be overwhelming for me because I want to control bloom time. I am not happy with those that flowers for only one month or those that return to flourish again in late summer or fall.

Clematis Star of IndiaI prefer a continuous output of flowers. In order to dial down the disappointment and stress that occur when Clematis fail to perform, I researched a wish list of some better know cultivars that bloom reliably for longer periods and I have posted their pictures in this blog. Online data revealed that all in this selection begin flowering either in June or July and remain in bloom until September. I hope that data is correct.

Clematis Ville de LyonEach season, I will add one or two more of these varieties to my garden until the brown fence has been camouflaged. Specifically for this project, I will focus on the hotter shades that blend well with the color brown. C. Red Cardinal appears to be the most effective for this purpose.

Clematis AbundanceI have read many blog entries from other gardeners who confess that they ignore the rules of pruning Clematis until the vines become too woody or stop blooming.

Clematis Little NellThis spring will be the first time that I will have pruned one of my older Clematis, although I admit this should have been done two years ago, on its 10th birthday, when the dense bloom crop began to taper off.

Clematis MinuetWhen I saw my first Clematis growing in a friend’s garden, I noticed that he had used twine to attach the earliest year’s growth to a trellis.

Clematis Polish SpiritAt the outset of the following season, subsequent growth would be draped over last year’s vines and they would attach themselves to the closest twig. Then, without the need for twine, most of the Clematis vines were able to attach themselves to the older brush as they grew taller. Renegade shoots that grow away may be delicately woven by hand into the top layer of older vines. It takes very little contact with a narrow object for a Clematis vine to securely wrap its petioles around it for permanent support.

Clematis HenryiThis family of plants does test gardeners’ endurance because it blooms sparsely for the first two years. It is only in their third year that Clematis rewards us for our patience with impressive flowering displays.

Clematis Red CardinalI focus on those plants that are richly hued because I want them to project from a distance. There is always some disappointment with those almost-pastel cultivars that appear colorful in photos but are bleached by strong daylight. It is difficult to control for that problem as the sun hits each garden, and each spot in a garden, differently. In the case of C. Henryi, a beloved but whitish cultivar, I will plant it next to dark blue or crimson Clematis in order to make its petals pop.

Clematis SunsetEnglish style gardens are enhanced by dark blue or purple-blue varieties. They appear so strikingly in such gardens. However, care must be taken in determining what the word purple means. For some nurseries, it translates into dark wine – which is rather offensive in a pastel English garden. Even a plant tag with a photo may be insufficient to control for this variance. To avoid disappointment, it is best to first research the cultivar online. The descriptive text accompanying a photo of dark blue – purple-looking Clematis should read blue. When it reads purple, the flower might bloom in wine.

Clematis NiobeSome gardeners drape Clematis over rose bushes and ornamental shrubs. Even though it creates a very pretty picture, I avoid that kind of décor because of the extra tidying up that it necessitates, later in the fall. Busy, cold climate gardeners, whose winters arrive early, don’t always have enough mild – weather days to complete all their outdoor chores.

So many Clematis, so little time!

Group 3/Type C

Late flowering species

These don’t usually bloom until after June and include C. viticella and all its hybrids,** yellow pendulous C. tanguitica, sweet autumn C. terniflora, nodding purple bell C. pitcheri, red-violet C. texensis and many shrubby- and groundcover types (C. integrifolia, C. recta and blue bush C. heracleifolia). To prune these: Cut back hard*** in late winter or early spring.

*The jackman hybrids fit into both 2/B or 3/C as they have genes from both groups. Some of the hybrids commence blooming earlier than others but all bloom later, as well. All are prolific producers. So any jackman can be simply cut to the ground as a 3/C and still produce plenty of flowers that summer. If you have one that can begin blooming early, in June, you can prune it per 2/B directions to have both rounds of bloom; then deadhead after the first bloom to improve the quantity of second-round bloom and present those later blooms more neatly. More about jackman pruning in Growing Concerns 611.

**Some C. viticella hybrids can begin bloom with Group 2 and so can be treated as a 2.

***By cut back hard we mean to the ground. However, you might choose not to cut a Group 3 all the way to the ground. That’s a situational thing, explained in Cut Low or Lower.

Types of Clematis

By Beth Stetenfeld

Here’s a handy guide to Clematis types and varieties. There are more than 300 species of Clematis and hundreds of hybrids—so we’ve compiled an easy overview to start your search.

There are three basic categories of growth, or “groups,” of Clematis plants:

  • Group one, which bloom only on old wood. These plants need very light pruning only if they’re overgrown. If pruning, do so before the end of July. Examples include Clematis montana, C. alpina, and evergreen species C. armandii.

  • Group two, which bloom on old and new growth. Clematis varieties in this group generally only need a light pruning each year after blooming. Most of these are the large-flowering hybrids, including ‘Diamond Ball’ and ‘Viva Polonia.’

  • Group three, which bloom primarily on new growth and can be cut back to about 12 inches in early spring. Species include C. viticella and C. x jackmanii. ‘Happy Jack’ is group three cultivar.

Clematis Flower Types

In addition, there are 10 basic Clematis flower shapes, and the timing of when they flower in the year:

Bell-shaped

Open bell-shaped

Double large flowers

Single large flowers

Saucer-shaped

Star-shaped

Tulip-shaped

Tubular

C. montana

C. viticella.

White Flowered Clematis Varieties

Diamond Ball Clematis Vine

Purple & Blue Flowered Clematis Varieties

Sweet Summer Love Clematis Vine

Jolly Good Clematis Vine

Happy Jack Purple Clematis Vine

Pink Flowered Clematis Varieties

Viva Polonia Clematis Vine

Pink Mink Clematis Vine

Clematis Bush Varieties Varieties

Stand by Me Clematis Bush

Clematis plants generally are easy-care and pleasant additions to just about any garden—once established and in the appropriate locations. It’s important to do a little planning before the planting. Consider these five key elements before you select your Clematis plant.

1. Your garden hardiness zone: This is probably the best place to start, particularly for gardeners in northern latitudes. Most species and cultivars are hardy to USDA hardiness zone 4, but some are not. For example, the evergreen species, C. armandii, is hardy in zones 7 to 9. The hybrid ‘Stand by Me’ Clematis, on the other hand, is hardy to zone 3. There are more than 300 species of Clematis and hundreds of hybrids—so make sure your choice will perform well in your garden climate.

2. Preferred bloom time: This will make a big difference in the type you choose. There are Clematis varieties that bloom starting in late winter, while others bloom in spring, summer, or fall. Some are even repeat-bloomers, producing flowers in more than one season. Herbaceous Clematis plants, like ‘Stand by Me,’ if deadheaded, can bloom from late spring through early fall.

3. Plant location: Various species and cultivars of Clematis have preferences for spacing, soil type, and sunlight. For example, ‘Viva Polonia’ is a vining cultivar that spreads 4 to 6 feet and should be spaced 3 to 5 feet from other plants. ‘Pink Mink,’ also a climber, requires more than 6 feet of spacing. Generally, most Clematises tolerate a range of Ph and are adaptable to different soil types. But some prefer slightly acidic or sandier soil. Regarding sun requirements, winter- and spring-blooming Clematis can be a little more versatile, since they’ll likely get plenty of sunlight—even in a deciduous woodland—to form buds before the surrounding trees leaf out.

4. Plant supports: Determine this before you choose your plant. Some Clematis varieties require strong and tall supports, like a trellis, an arbor, or wire supports on a wall. Those that grow tall and wide, like ‘Happy Jack,’ can get quite heavy with growth. Providing a solid structure for their vines and foliage can help prevent wind damage and breakage.

5. Potted vs. in the ground: Plants that do well in pots are the varieties that are non-climbing, or those that don’t grow quite as tall. ‘Stand by Me’ is a shrub-forming plant that works well in pots. It might need a little support from a stake, but only reaches a height of 34 to 38 inches. ‘Viva Polonia’ is a climbing Clematis, but reaches a height of just 4 to 6 feet. It can be grown in the ground or in a pot, but will need support.

Expert Raymond Evison recommends the best clematis to grow in the garden

Award-winning nurseryman Raymond Evison has been growing and selling clematis since he left school at the age of 15 and over the years has introduced more than 100 new plants to our gardens. He grows clematis suitable for growing in pots and containers, and other clematis that you can train to climb inside a conservatory or along a garden wall. He grows scented clematis and clematis with colourful showy flowers. There’s plenty of choice to suit all garden sizes and styles. Not easy then to select just a few clematis as favourites but here’s what Raymond picked and how he made his choice.

Advertisement I’ve chosen clematis that will perform well in the garden, deliver plenty of flowers over a long period of time, be colourful and are easy to grow and maintain.
1

Diamantina (=’Evipo039′)

Our 2010 Chelsea Flower Show introduction, a plant I found as a sport on Crystal Fountain™ Evipo038(N) in 2002. An ideal plant for a container, for growing with wall-trained shrubs especially golden or silver variegated plants. Best in a south, west or east facing location. Always fully double flowered, very long flowering May – September.

2

Rebecca (=’Evipo016′)

An outstanding red clematis introduced in 2008 and named after my eldest daughter Rebecca. Can be grown in any location, holds its colour well in full sun, good through other wall-trained plants and also in a container.

3

Ice Blue (=’Evipo003)

A stunning off white, with blue tints, large 15-18cm wide flowers. Very long flowering – almost the first large-flowered clematis to come into flower and the last to finish flowering. Suitable in any location through wall- trained or free-standing shrubs or in a container.

4

Picardy™ (=’Evipo024)

A designer clematis which meets all the criteria a clematis plant should have for growing in a container: medium size flowers produced over a long period, repeat flowering, easy to maintain, simple pruning each spring. Will do well in a container or in the soil in the garden, ideal for a small town garden, in any aspect.

5

Angelique (=’Evipo017′)

Also like Picardy an ideal plant for a container or for the smaller garden, mass flowering over a long period, May – September. Dusky blue flowers which go well with grey foliage and ideal for the mixed border and looks marvellous with purple shrubs like Berberis.

6

Diana’s Delight (=’Evipo026′)

A 2009 Chelsea introduction with delightful pale blue flowers, long flowering, equally as good in a container or in the garden only growing to about 120-150cm. Its flower colours blend with all pastel shades.

7

Rosemoor (=’Evipo002′)

A 2004 introduction, a very bushy, well-furnished plant, lots of flowers, a stunning dark red to grow with roses, over archways and with other wall-trained shrubs.

8

Viennetta (=’Evipo006′)

A plant that when in full flower causes great acclaim, creamy white outer sepals and a stunning boss of central petaloid stamens, which contrast well with the outer sepals. Needs a sheltered position, best through evergreen wall trained shrubs, ideal for growing a container or in a conservatory

9

Clematis ‘Princess Diana’

Its flowers adorn the front cover of my latest book, Clematis for Small Spaces. I really love the species and small flowered clematis, but these are not so popular with the general public. This one is a great plant with an unusual miniature tulip shaped flower. It should be grown through other low growing evergreen shrubs where its charming flowers can be viewed from above.

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Read full descriptions and details of how to buy these and other clematis at www.raymondevisonclematis.com. You’ll also find advise on how to grow and maintain your plants.

Cold Hardy Clematis Plants: Tips On Growing Clematis In Zone 3

One of the more spectacular flowering vines available is the clematis. Clematis have a wide hardiness range dependent upon the species. Finding the right clematis vines for zone 3 is essential unless you want to treat them as annuals and sacrifice heavy blooms. United States Department of Agriculture zone 3 plants need to be hardy through weather temperatures of -30 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 to -40 C.). Brr. Cold hardy clematis do exist, however, and some even can withstand temperatures down to zone 2.

Cold Hardy Clematis

If someone mentions clematis, even novice gardeners usually know what plant is being cited. These vigorous vining plants have several pruning and blooming classes, which are important to note, but their hardiness is another trait required when purchasing these lovely flowering vines.

Clematis vines in cold climates should be able to survive the extreme temperatures that often occur. Extended winters with excessive cold temperatures can kill the root system of any plant that is not adapted to that level of cold. Growing clematis in zone 3 starts with picking the right plant that can acclimatize to such long chilly winters.

There are both hardy and tender clematis. The vines are also classed by their blooming period and pruning needs.

  • Class A – Early blooming clematis rarely perform well in zone 3 because the soil and ambient temperatures won’t warm up enough for the plant’s bloom period. These are considered Class A and only a few species can survive in zone 3.
  • Class B – Class B plants bloom off of old wood and include the huge flowering species. Buds on the old wood can easily be killed by frost and snow and they rarely provide a spectacular color show by the time blooming should start in June.
  • Class C – A better choice are the Class C plants, which produce flowers off new wood. These are pruned to the ground in fall or early spring and can start blooming in early summer and continue to produce flowers to the first frost. Class C plants are the best option for clematis vines in cold climates.

Hardy Zone 3 Clematis Varieties

Clematis naturally like cool roots but some are considered tender in that they can become winter killed in extreme cold. There are, however, several zone 3 clematis varieties that would be suitable for icy regions. These are primarily the Class C and some that are intermittently called Class B-C.

The truly hardy varieties are species such as:

  • Blue Bird, purplish-blue
  • Blue Boy, silvery blue
  • Ruby clematis, bell-shaped mauve-red blooms
  • White Swan, 5-inch creamy flowers
  • Purpurea Plena Elegans, double flowers are lavender blushed with rose and bloom July to September

Each of these are perfect clematis vines for zone 3 with exceptional hardiness.

Slightly Tender Clematis Vines

With a little protection some of the clematis can withstand zone 3 weather. Each is reliably hardy to zone 3 but should be planted in a sheltered southern or western exposure. When growing clematis in zone 3, a good thick layer of organic mulch can help protect roots during harsh winters.

There are many colors of clematis vines in cold climates, each with a twining nature and producing vigorous blooms. Some of the smaller flowered varieties are:

  • Ville de Lyon (carmine blooms)
  • Nelly Moser (pink flowers)
  • Huldine (white)
  • Hagley Hybrid (blush pink blooms)

If you want truly stunning 5- to 7-inch flowers, some good options are:

  • Etoille Violette (dark purple)
  • Jackmanii (violet blooms)
  • Ramona (bluish-lavender)
  • Wildfire (amazing 6- to 8-inch purple blooms with a red center)

These are just a few of the varieties of clematis that should perform well in most zone 3 regions. Always provide your vines with something on which to climb and add plenty of organic compost at planting to get the plants off to a good start.

Clematis: A colorful introduction to cultivars of Clematis

As a general rule, clematis love partial to full sun and are extremely hardy plants; In fact, most thrive in Zones 3-9. Take a look through these pictures, organized by color, and see what you like. You might want to get a paper towel for the drool before you scroll down. You can click on the photographs for a link to the Plant Files entry on each variety where you can find more information on growing conditions and pruning groups. Remember, these are just a few of my favorites and I’ve included history and care on several.

Reds and Pinks

Nelly Moser (also pictured above right)

A standard in any Clematis collection, Nelly Moser is one of the most well-recognized and used Clematis out there. Introduced in 1897, this vine is very hardy, vigorous, and easy to grow. Make sure the roots are shaded or cool and you should have a blooming machine within a few years. (Pruning Group 2)

Comtesse de Bouchaud

Comtesse de Bouchaud (pronounced Boo-SHOW) is a very prolific mid- to late-summer bloomer with pale pink to mauve medium sized flowers. It is an excellent choice for a

sunny trellis or wall, though it doesn’t get much taller than 7-8′. Part of the Jackmanii family, Comtesse de Bouchaud is in pruning Group 3 and blooms on new growth.

It is readily available and very well known among clematis gardeners. If pink is what you desire, Comtesse de Bouchaud will not dissappoint.

Markham’s Pink

Ernest Markham

With a gorgeous large, red-violet blossom and a vigorous, tall vine, Ernest Markham is a good choice for arbors, pergolas or trellises. This clematis will bloom from late Spring to early Fall and can be pruned in Group 2 or 3 (1).

Niobe

With deep scarlet red flowers, this prolific bloomer adds great contrast to any garden.

Niobe (pronounced Ny-o-bee) is an early large flowering variety and straddles 2 and 3 pruning groups.

It is one of the smaller clematis, so it makes a great container or patio vine.

Hagley’s Hybrid

Princess Diana (C. texensis)

Princess Diana has small, nodding bell-shaped rose blooms appearing from mid summer to early fall. Being in the Texensis family, this clematis is very heat tolerant and excellent for southern gardens. Princess Diana is in Pruning Group 3, needing hard pruning in early spring.

Purples and Blues

Belle of Woking

Belle of Woking is a member of the early large-flowering group. It blooms double lavender on the previous year’s growth from May to July and single blooms on new growth later in the summer. Belle of Woking was introduced in 1881 in the United Kingdom (2).

Jackmanii

One of the more widely used clematis, Jackmanii boasts deep violet blooms on a vigorous vine. In Pruning Group 3, this large late-flowering variety is fairly picky about having its roots shaded with its vine in full sun. This is a standard favorite of many clematis lovers and is readily available at retailers.

Floralia

A native of Siberia, Mongolia and China, Floralia blooms in spring on last year’s growth, putting it in Pruning Group 1. C. macropetala and its cultivars are excellent for trellises and fences (3).

C. alpina
Clematis alpina is a native species from the European Alps which is now grown as multiple different cultivars offering a range of colors. The original species C. alpina flowers purplish-blue bell-shaped nodding blooms and can grow up to 6-8′. It is an excellent choice for smaller garden plots or containers (4).

Pamela Jackman is a good example of a more recent cultivar of this species. Others include Pink Flamingo, Constance, Cyanea, and Frankie.

Negritianka

C. macropetala

Clematis macropetala is a native species to China, Mongolia and Siberia. The small, early blooming flowers are semi-double blue and nod downward very similar to C. alpina (5).

Venosa Violacea

Also known as Violet Star Gazer, this knockout beauty was introduced in 1884 in France. A cross between C. florida and C. viticella, Venosa Violacea is a vigorous climber and profuse bloomer (6). (Pruning Group 3)

Elsa Spaeth Pamela Jackman

White

Apple Blossom

This evergreen climber boasts pale pink to white blooms in spring on last year’s growth (Pruning Group 1). As one DGer notes, the buds look like “pink pearls” and “then open into a profusion of light pink flowers about 1.5 inches across.”

Duchess of Edinburgh

Talk about an antique! This stunning double-bloomer was introduced in 1874 in England.

This early large-flowered variety is a compact grower and is in Pruning Group 2.

Henryi

Joe

Joe is an interesting, somewhat new addition to the world of Clematis. Its evergreen foliage is more deeply cut than most clematis, almost fern-like. Joe happens to be a male vine (dioecious) and therefore will never set seed and can only be propagated by cutting, according to the Plant Files. Joe, named for Joe Cartman who produced this variety, is a hybrid of New Zealand native clematis and is only hardy to Zone 7 (7).

Arctic Queen

Yellows

Helios

Radar Love

Radar Love is well-known both for it’s nodding bright yellow blooms as well as its silvery “poof” seed pods that grace it in fall. Radar Love is in Pruning Group 3, which means you have to prune hard in early spring to encourage new growth and blooming.

Bi-colored

Sieboldii

Also known as Bicolor or Choirboy, Sieboldii clematis is a stunner for warmer regions. Only harder to Zone 7, Sieboldii has pale yellow to pure white petals with deep violet, fringed sepals and chartreuse stamens.

Vienetta

A close, but hardier relative of Sieboldii (though still only Zone 6-7 hardy), Vientetta bares a striking resemblance to Passionflower. This beauty blooms from spring to mid summer bright white petals with unique sprays of double purple sepals and a chartreuse center.

Piilu

Piilu means “little duckling” in Estonian, where this stunning cultivar is from. Early in the season, blooms are double and later in the season turn to single blooms. Not only is this bicolor variety a knockout, it is also one of the hardiest clematis, to Zone 2 if you can even find weather that cold (8)!

Josephine

Be sure to check out paulgrow’s article on Pruning Groups so that you can keep your choice Clematis going strong from season to season.

Photo credits:

Negritianka – Doss Piilu – Wallaby1 Hagley’s Hybrid – Gloryvine
Markham’s Pink – Kiniphofia Venosa Violacea- Kell Josephine – Xeriscape8321
Princess Diana – violabird Duchess of Edinburg – victorgardener Pamela Jackman – Todd_Boland
Joe Cartmanii – Todd_Boland Niobe – TBGDN Nienetta – PudgyMudpies
Henryi -Night_Bloom Ernest Markham – Lilyofavonhill Radar Love – OhioBreezy, Dawndoll2
Jackmanii – hczone6 Sieboldii – gldandrews Elsa Spaeth – gardenwife
Comtesse de Bouchaud – art_n_garden Helios – Galanthophile Floralia – Galanthophile
Belle of Woking – Dea Nelly Moser – Cullin Arctic Queen- CaptMicha
Appleblossom – Bootandall

Citations

1. http://www.clematis-nursery.com/

2. http://www.clematis.com.pl/wms/wmsg.php/321.html&plant_number=304

3. http://www.backyardgardener.com/plantname/pda_033f.html

4. http://clematisinternational.com/beglist.html

5. http://clematisinternational.com/beglist.html

6. http://clematisinternational.com/prevtoc.html (december 2006)

7. http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/clematis/page05.htm

8. http://www.clematisnursery.com/detail.aspx?ID=123

(Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 25, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to yoru questions.)

Do you have a small garden and are you looking for a climbing and trailing plant that will provide good coverage AND lots of colour? Well, look no further than the clematis.

Clematis – one of the best known climbers amongst vertical plants – covers a small surface area and provides a beautifully coloured display. This hardy climber also sometimes bears beautiful seed fluff after flowering, and if you plant in April, you can enjoy its benefits all summer long.

1. Clematis climbs using twisting leaf stems, which are exceptionally long, and they start looking for support as soon as they have any strength.

2. Clematis can be planted both in the soil and in containers. You’ll need either a pergola, wooden stake or trellis made of stretched wires so that the plant has a climbing aid, and a wall, shed, tree or fence so that it has something to fasten on to.

3. These plants flower profusely but blue, pink, purple and white are the most common. Bi-coloured, single and double flowered varieties are becoming increasingly popular.

KSIPhotographyGetty Images

Did you know? Clematis is an ingredient in the famous Bach Rescue Remedy, the drops to counter stress.

4. The size of a clematis can range from 2 to 24 cm.

5. The earliest clematis flowers in March – April, but most varieties flower from May to the end of September.

6. Clematis’ roots like to be cool so it’s best not to place the plant’s base in direct sunlight.

7. You should water clematis regularly so that the soil never dries out, particularly if it’s planted in a pot or container.

thejoyofplants.co.uk

8. Clematis needs extra food during the growing period from March to May. Use a universal fertiliser such as granulated dried cow manure, which also improves the soil structure.

9. You don’t have to feed clematis during the flowering period itself but some training is required to ensure the plant grows in the right direction.

10. Regular pruning is important. For varieties that flower in May, prune at the start of the summer, while for varieties that flower in summer, prune at the end of the winter. If clematis is not pruned, you will end up with a tangle of bare branches, and the flowers will be constantly higher up the plant.

Clematis is Thejoyofplants.co.uk’s Garden Plant of the Month for April 2017

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In most other flowers, sepals are utilitarian green modified leaves that form an organ called the calyx, which forms a protective wrapping around a flower bud. When the flower blooms, the calyx supports the petals. The lack of petals, a condition scientifically known as being “apetalous,” appears to be due to some sort of genetic modification whose purpose is not yet fully understood. While the scientists try to solve this mystery, we can simply enjoy the fact that the sepals of the clematis more than adequately replace petals and are, in fact, among the showiest and most gorgeous flower parts imaginable.

Above: Photograph by Karl Kyhl via Flickr.

Cheat Sheet

  • Because most clematis vines climb by twisting their petioles or leaf stalks around a support, you will need to supply a trellis or other climbable structure which should not be thicker than three-quarters of an inch (any larger and the vine will not be able to wrap around it).
  • Clematis are sun lovers (six hours of direct sun for most varieties) but like to have cool “feet,” so protect the roots of your plant by mulching or planting some shallow-rooted, low-growing shrub or ground cover at the base of it.
  • Use clematis vines by themselves to adorn walls or fences or add texture to the garden by allowing the vines to twine around a rose bush or over a flowering shrub such as a hydrangea so that the contrasting flowers of each plant mingle together.
  • The stronger and taller growing clematis vines such as the vigorous Montana group can also be planted at the base of a tree and trained to grow up the trunk and into the crown to produce a flower display high above the rest of the garden.

Above: Clematis florida var. sieboldiana. A Clematis vine is £19.99 from Crocus. For US shoppers, the variety is available seasonally from Brushwood Nursery.

Keep It Alive

  • Clematis will tolerate most non-acid soils but good drainage is critical to the plant’s survival.
  • Keep your clematis well-watered, especially during dry weather.
  • At planting time (either in the spring or fall), dig a hole large enough for the roots to have plenty of room to expand; clematis can frequently be quite long-lived, able to survive for decades.
  • After the plant is in the ground, encourage a bushy habit by pruning above the first node, at about six to 12 inches up the stem. This will delay flowering, but you will gain a stronger more attractive plant in the long run.
  • Remember that in very cold climates clematis may die back to the ground in winter and can be very slow to appear again in the spring. Make sure you know where you have planted your vine so that you don’t disturb it before it reappears.
  • Deadheading will keep your plant looking its best and encourage robust flowering.

One of the hardest parts of growing clematis is selecting which variety to plant. The choices are virtually limitless. Flowers can be huge or tiny, flat and open with four to 10 sepals or shaped like stars or bells or tubes. The color range is staggering. Flowers are sometimes striped or speckled or ruffled or have double rows of overlapping sepals. Additionally many varieties have ornamental seed pods that linger to embellish the garden long after the flowers have gone. Aesthetics aside, it is important to select a variety that is well suited to your climate and location and to give it the most appropriate site in your garden. Once established in a spot, clematis does not like to be moved and can take as long as a year to recover from being transplanted.

See more growing tips at Clematis: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design. Get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for our favorite vines and climbers with our Vines & Climbers: A Field Guide. Read more:

  • 9 Ways to Create Curb Appeal with Flowering Vines and Climbers
  • 10 Easy Pieces: Garden Trellis Panels
  • Everything You Need to Know About Arbors

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