Sweet Autumn Clematis

Sweet autumn clematis is a seductress. You know this vine can engulf shrubs to the point of killing them and if allowed to seed will populate the neighborhood with equally rampant babies. You promised yourself you will not plant her, but then the sweet perfume from her clouds of starlike blossoms reaches your nostrils and you're doomed. You must have her. And she has you.

Native to Japan, sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) is the easiest clematis to grow. Normally, that would be a good thing. But too much of a good thing is not. And too much is what this vine does. It can easily grow 15 to 20 feet up any support it has in a single year, and it grows so thickly that soon you don't see the support. I had one in a previous garden that cloaked the trunk of a huge loblolly pine, so no harm done there. But should a seedling sprout in the middle of a shrub or hedge, pretty soon you will no longer see the shrub or hedge. So beware.


Sweet autumn clematis is hardy in USDA Zones 4-9. It likes full sun or light shade, tolerates drought, and has no pests that I can find. Even deer won't eat it. Give it a good haircut in early spring to maintain some semblance of control. In late summer and fall, you'll know it's blooming even with your eyes closed. Inhale and you'll be seduced again into granting it yet another year of life.

You are hers.