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Plant Notebook - Climbing Plants Clematis

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C. cirrhosa is a winter flowering clematis, although not always hardy will produce its fascinating hanging creamy white, bell-shaped flowers in mild days in winter and very early spring. Evergreen with fern-like leaves it comes from the Balearic Is.. 'Freckles' has wonderful 'freckles' or spotting, 'Wisley Cream' is pure cream. 'Lansdowne Gem' is a newer New Zealand sport, cream with rosy red inside.

C. macropetala is from China. The 'downy clematis' has downy hairs on the young growth. Semi-double nodding flowers appear in spring and the plant will reach 2.4-3.6m (8-12ft). Good cultivars are 'Markham's Pink' (double pink), 'Blue Lagoon' (double blue) and 'Maidwell Hall'.

Clematis macropetala

Clematis macropetala, the downy clematis

C. recta is a herbaceous clematis that forms a large, sprawling bush and carries masses of white scented flowers. Plant it with Lavatera 'Barnsley', early thalictrums or with silver leaved buddleia for a striking garden picture. C. recta will reach 90-120cm (3-4ft) and should be hard pruned in winter.

C. tangutica, sometimes called the 'orange peel clematis', flowers in late summer and has a mass of yellow lantern flowers. These are followed in autumn by feathery seed heads. Deciduous, it will reach 6-9m (10-20ft)

C. armandii is an evergreen clematis with leathery leaves and a lavish show of starry white flowers in spring. Frost hardy it is best planted where it faces the sun. Pure white 'Snowdrift' is easily found while 'Apple Blossom' has a pink blush. C. armandii is a vigorous climber and can reach 8m (25ft) and needs a sturdy support. Prune only to control and contain.

C. texensis from the USA is especially lovely. 'Etoile Rose' (cerise pink flowers with silver edges) is rarely available, try 'Princess of Diana', a deep pink with tulip-shaped flowers, both will reach 1.8-2.5m (6-8ft). 'Gravetye Beauty' is the deepest crimson and the flowers star-shaped, to 2.4-3.6m (8-12ft). and 'Pagoda' a pale pink.

The montana clematis are very vigorous and neeed strong support. They can collapse a lightweight pergola or arch. C. montana will grow on shady walls and is covered with flowers in early summer. 'Elizabeth' is pale pink, 'Grandiflora' white, 'Marjorie' semi-double and 'Pink Perfection' generally considered the best pink. 'Tetrarose' has the largest flower, a pale rose pink with golden stamens. C. m. var. sericea 'Spooneri' has white flowers with yellow stamens and will reach 8-10m (20-30ft).

Clematis montana 'Marjorie'

Clematis montana 'Marjorie'

C. florida 'Sieboldiana' is a connoisseurs clematis. From late spring to summer it produces creamy-white with a distinctive mass of purple stamens that remain after the petals have fallen. Not as hardy as many clematis it needs a warm wall.

C. flammula, the Virgin's bower' was widely used by Gertrude Jekyll to cover pergolas and archways. The flowers are small, white and almond scented.

C. heracleifolia var. davidiana 'Wyevale' is a perennial clematis that forms a large, rounded mound. Clusters of blue scented flowers are carried in profusion in late summer. Prune in winter.

C. 'Jackmani' is the parent of many of the large flowered hybrids. In New Zealand 'Jackamani Superba' is available, a deciduous plant it should be hard pruned in winter and is ideal for growing with roses and other plants that are pruned at the same time. C. 'Jackmanii' has large deep purple flowers in mid-summer. There is hybrid in most shade of white through pink, deep red to purple and pale blue. 'Perle d'Azur' is the purest blue, 'General Sikorski' a deep purple-blue, 'Henryi' a pure white with brown stamens, 'Huldine' pearl-white with a pink-mauve underside, 'Niobe' a dark rich wine, 'Comtesse de Bouchard' a soft rose pink.

Collectors beware
Clematis are available in incredible variety. There is a clematis for almost every season and ever situation. Collectors and plant-aholics beware, once you begin with clematis, and it is almost impossible to stop!

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DO NOT GROW Clematis vitalba
A Native of England 'Old Man's Beard' or 'Traveller's Joy' is no joy at all in New Zealand and is a noxious weed.

Clematis 'Henryi'

Clematis 'Henryi' Plant Features

Clematis cirrhosa 'Wisley Cream' flowers in late winter/spring

Clematis cirrhosa 'Wisley Cream' flowers in late winter/spring

In this Article

Where to grow clematis
Clematis for your Garden
In this articleTransplanting
Other Care
Pests and Diseases
By Colour, by Season
Where to Buy


Other Care
An annual mulch with compost in winter, after a handful of bonemeal has be lightly worked into the soil around the plant, will help to feed the plant and to improve the moisture retention in the soil.

Water spring and summer. On lighter soils water at least twice a week and give a good soaking.

Sulphate of potash will give plants a boost in spring; sprinkle a handful on the soil and water in well. This will also help to prevent the green-tinge to the flowers that 'Nelly Moser', 'Mrs Cholmondeley' and others can show.

Liquid manure should only be given when plants are out of flower or the flowering season will be shortened.

Clematis are naturally twining plants with their roots hidden in the shade of a host tree. Plants should be tied in when they start into growth each season, and fanned out across a wall or support.

For a really impressive show a number of plants should be staggered across the foot of a wall or pergola.

Layering is one of the easiest techniques.

Cuttings taken in summer will root within four to six weeks. Keep in the greenhouse over winter and plant out in spring after hardening off.

Herbaceous clematis (C. recta, C. integrifolia and C. heracleifolia) can be increased by division in winter.
Pests and Diseases

Clematis wilt (the fungus Ascochyta clematidina) is the most devastating problem afflicting clematis- healthy plants can wither and die in days. The fungus enters the stem of the plant close to ground level, and discolouration and small rotting patches can be seen below the lowest pair of wilting leaves. Cut to well below affected foliage and burn. Do not compost. Plants may come away again from below ground.

Keeping the plants well watered is one of the best preventatives. On light or dry soils a buried container with a hole pierced in the bottom or a plant pot will help to get water to the roots of the plant.

Wilt is most troublesome in wet seasons, spraying with a copper or Bordeaux in spring and autumn is said to help.

Viruses affecting clematis are rare. Mottled and distorted leaves, malformed flowers are signals that clematis is affected. Plants should immediately be dug up and disposed of. Do not compost.

Powdery mildew occurs when air circulation is poor and on light soils when plants have insufficient water.

Wilt is most troublesome in wet seasons, spraying with a copper or Bordeaux in spring and autumn is said to help.

Wilt is most troublesome in wet seasons, spraying with a copper or Bordeaux in spring and autumn is said to help.

Some brown leaves on plants over the summer is natural. Clematis come into leaf early and the first leaves die off by mid-summer. There are new leaves to take over.

Greenish flowers on early clematis are thought to be related to very cold winters. A dressing of sulphate of potash in late winter will help to restore flower colour.

Slimy patches on stems are the result of wounds to the plant. Yeasts, bacteria and fungal growth form in the sap. Affected areas should be cut out and disposed of. Do not compost.

Slugs can destroy the new shoots. Protect with a mulch of sharp grit, copper barriers, beer traps or night raids. Bait can be used as a last resort.

Greenfly and blackfly can sometimes strike new growth. Spraying with soapy water and natural predators should control these.

Holes in leaves and flowers are caused by caterpillars and earwigs. Earwigs are nocturnal and hide by day when they can be trapped for them. Caterpillars can be picked off and removed, and natural predators will control them except in unusual circumstances.

Clematis 'Mme Julia Correvon'
Clematis 'Mme Julia Correvon'
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Last revised 24 Jan '02