FAMILY: Ranunculaceae

  • Deciduous
  • Evergreen
  • Perennials
  • Vines / Ground Covers
  • Full Sun
  • Regular Water

Plant Details

The most familiar clematis species are deciduous vines that clamber into trees and over fences and arbors; exceptions include the evergreen C. armandii and a few interesting freestanding or sprawling perennials. Flowers are attractive in all kinds, spec- tacular in many. The clustered true flowers are tiny and incon- spicuous; the showy part consists of petal-like sepals that surround them. Blossoms of most are followed by fluffy clusters of seeds with tails, often quite effective in flower arrangements. Leaves of vining kinds are dark green, usually divided into leaflets; leafstalks twist and curl to hold plant to its support.

C. alpina. ALPINE CLEMATIS. Deciduous vine. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. European native. To 812 ft., with dangling, 112- to 3-in.-wide flowers borne singly on long stalks in spring. Flowers may be blue, white, purple, pink, or red, depending on selection; they have four spreading, pointed, petal-like sepals and an inner, smaller cup of modified stamens. 'Pamela Jackman' is lavender-blue. 'Stolwijk Gold' reaches about 6 ft. tall and has blue flowers; its bright yellow foliage matures to chartreuse.

C. armandii. ARMAND CLEMATIS, EVERGREEN CLEMATIS. Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9. Native to China. Fast-growing vine to 2035 ft. Leaves divided into three glossy, dark green, 3- to 5-in.-long leaflets; they droop downward, creating a strongly textured look. Creamy white, vanilla-scented, saucer-shaped flowers are 12 in. across, are borne in large, branched clusters in spring. Choice selections include 'Apple Blossom' (rosy pink), 'Snowdrift' (pure white), and 'Hendersonii Rubra' (soft pink).

Leaves burn badly at tips in areas where soil or water contains excess salts. Train along substantial frames such as sturdy fence tops or roof gables; or allow to climb tall trees. Makes privacy screen if not allowed to become bare at base. Slow to start but races when established. Needs relentless pruning after flowering to prevent tangling and buildup of dead thatch on inner parts of vine. Keep and tie up stems you want; cut out all others. Frequent pinching will hold foliage to eye level.

C. xcartmanii 'Avalanche'. Evergreen shrubby vine. Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9. Vigorous hybrid with dark green, deeply cut leaves. Blooms profusely in spring, bearing panicles of 2- to 3-in. white flowers with yellow stamens. Prune after bloom is over.

C. chrysocoma. GOLD WOOL CLEMATIS. Deciduous vine. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to western China. Grows to 68 ft. or more in height; fairly open grower. Young branches, leaves, and flower stalks covered with yellow down. Clusters of long-stalked, 2-in.-wide, pink-shaded white blossoms on old wood in spring; later flowers follow from new wood. Will take considerable shade.

C. florida 'Sieboldiana'. Deciduous vine. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Selection of an Asian subspecies. To 812 ft. Not as rugged as other clematis vines, but summer flowers are striking: 34 in. across, creamy white with a central puff of purple petal-like stamens. C. f. flore-pleno 'Plena' is similar but has a creamy to greenish white central puff.

C. heracleifolia davidiana (C. tubulosa). Woody-based perennial. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Native to China. To 4 ft. high, 3 ft. wide. Deep green leaves divided into three broad, oval, 3- to 6-in. leaflets. Dense clusters of 1-in.-long, tubular, medium to deep blue, fragrant flowers in summer. Use in perennial or shrub border.

C. integrifolia. Woody-based perennial. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Native to Europe and Asia. To 3 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide, with dark green, undivided, 2- to 4-in.-long leaves and nodding, urn-shaped, 112-in. blue flowers in summer. Provide twigs for the plant to sprawl over. 'Alba' has white blooms; those of 'Ozawa's Blue' are a rich, true blue. 'Arabella' is blue-mauve. Hybrid 'Rooguchi' is more of a climber, reaching 58 ft. tall; its stunning deep purple flowers are up to 2 in. long.

C. lanuginosa. Deciduous vine. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Chinese species best known as a parent of many of the large- flowered hybrids. Its selection 'Candida' has breathtaking 8-in.-wide white blooms on a vigorous but small (6- to 10-ft.) vine. Blooms in spring, again in summer.

C. macropetala. DOWNY CLEMATIS. Deciduous vine. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Native to China, Siberia. Variable in size; may reach 610 ft. Lavender to powder-blue flowers to 4 in. across appear in early spring; they look double, resembling a ballerina's tutu. Blooms are followed by bronzy pink seed clusters with silvery tailsvery showy. Hybrids 'Blue Bird' (soft blue) and 'Markham Pink' (lavender-pink) are highly recommended.

C. montana. ANEMONE CLEMATIS. Deciduous vine. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to Himalayas, China. Vigorous grower to 2030 ft.; give it plenty of room to roam. Massive early spring display of 2- to 212-in., anemone-like flowers that open white, then turn pink. 'Elizabeth' has pale pink flowers and bronzy foliage that matures to green. C. m. grandiflora produces 3-in. white flowers. C. m. rubens has crimson new leaves maturing to bronzy green; the fragrant flowers are pink to rose-red. Among its selections are 'Odorata', notable for fragrance; 'Pink Perfection', with large, fragrant blooms; and 'Tetrarose', known for bronze foliage and 3-in., thick-textured floral segments.

C. paniculata. See C. terniflora.

C. recta. Perennial. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. From central and southern Europe. To 36 ft. tall and wide, with dark green, divided leaves and clouds of starlike, inch-wide, white flowers with fragrance of vanilla; blooms from midsummer to early fall. Give support to keep plants from flopping over onto their neighbors. 'Purpurea' and 'Velvet Night' have coppery purple new foliage that gradually fades to green.

C. tangutica. GOLDEN CLEMATIS. Deciduous vine. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to Mongolia, northern China. To 1015 ft., with finely divided gray-green leaves. Nodding, lantern-shaped, bright yellow flowers, 24 in. across, in great profusion from midsummer into fall. Blossoms are followed by handsome, silvery, mop-headed seed clusters.

C. terniflora (C. dioscoreifolia). SWEET AUTUMN CLEMATIS. Deciduous vine. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to Japan. Tall and vigorous (some would say rampant), producing billowy masses of 1-in.-wide, fragrant, creamy white flowers in late summer, fall. Glossy leaves divided into three to five oval, 1- to 212-in.-long leaflets. Good privacy screen, arbor cover. Self-sows readily; can become a pest. Often erroneously sold as C. paniculata, a little-grown species from New Zealand.

C. texensis. SCARLET CLEMATIS. Deciduous vine. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to Texas. Fast growing to 610 ft. Dense bluish green foliage; bright scarlet, urn-shaped flowers to 1 in. long from early summer until frost. More tolerant of dry soils than most clematis. Crosses with large-flowered hybrids have produced eye-catching selections such as the vivid pink 'Duchess of Albany', crimson 'Gravetye Beauty', and rich pink 'Princess Diana'.

C. viticella. Deciduous vine. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to southern Europe, western Asia. To 1215 ft. Purple or rose-purple, 2-in. blooms in summer. 'Venosa Violacea' bears 3-4 in.-wide blooms that are rich purple with white bars. 'Madame Julia Correvon' has bright red blooms; vigorous and free-flowering. Rich pink 'John Howells' is a heavy bloomer.

Large-flowered hybrids. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Although well over a hundred large-flowered hybrids are grown today, your local nursery is not likely to offer more than a dozen of the old favorites. Mail-order catalogs remain the best source for col- lectors seeking the newest. Following is a list of time-honored hybrids, along with some noteworthy newer ones. Most grow 610 ft. tall, with saucer-shaped flowers 48 in. across, though some may reach 10 in. across. Cut flowers are choice for indoors; float them in a bowl of water. Sear the cut stem ends with a flame to make flowers last longer.

White 'Henryi' is the standard. 'Huldine', 'Hyde Hall', 'Jackmanii Alba', 'Marie Boisselot', and 'Snow Queen' are also excellent choices.

Pink Look for 'Caroline' (pale pink sepals marked with dark pink), 'Comtesse de Bouchard' (bright mauve-pink), 'Dr. Ruppel' (deep pink bands down center of petals), 'Hagley Hybrid' (mauve-pink), 'Kakio' (also known as 'Pink Champagne', with vivid pink sepals and a pale central band), and 'Proteus' (mauve-pink double flowers). Where summers are hot, plant in bright shade to prevent the soft colors from fading.

Red Great choices include vivid magenta 'Ernest Markham', deep red 'Niobe', velvety crimson 'Rouge Cardinal', carmine-red 'Ville de Lyon', and deep maroon 'Warsaw Nike' ('Warszawska Nike').

Purple The classic 'Jackmanii', with velvety, dark purple sepals, remains the most popular; 'Jackmanii Superba' has larger flowers with wider petals. Other fine choices include rich dark purple 'Aotearoa'; deep blue-violet 'Daniel Deronda'; velvety, dark violet 'Gipsy Queen'; rosy purple 'Richard Pennell'; purple-blue 'The President'; and rosy mauve 'Viola'.

Blue Sky blue 'Ramona' is deservedly popular. Other selections include 'General Sikorski' (dark lavender), 'H. F. Young' (periwinkle blue, tinged with mauve), 'Ken Donson' (deep lavender-blue), 'Will Goodwin' (lavender-blue, yellow stamens), and 'William Kennett' (lilac-blue).

Bicolor Choices include 'Asao' (deep rosy pink sepals with a pale pink central bar), 'Barbara Jackman' (lavender with vivid magenta bar), 'Charissima' (cerise-pink with deep pink bar), 'Danielle' ('Vancouver Danielle', violet-blue with carmine bar), 'Kilian Donahue' (opens pink with red bar, then fades to lavender), the ever-popular 'Nelly Moser' (purplish pink with reddish bar), 'Piilu' ('Little Duckling', pastel pink with raspberry bar), 'Prince Philip' (purple blue with magenta bands), and 'Starry Nights' ('Vancouver Starry Nights', 8-in. fuchsia flowers with reddish center bar). In hot-summer areas, plant these selections in bright shade to prevent fading.

Double Fully double, roselike blooms in early summer on old wood are usually followed later by single or semidouble flowers on new wood. Choice selections include silvery blue 'Belle of Woking', lavender-blue 'Blue Light' ('Vanso Blue') and 'Multi Blue', and white 'Duchess of Edinburgh'. 'Josephine' has unusual flowers of mauve-pink with a dark blue central stripe.

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