Within the three groups of clematis there are a huge variety of flowers, colors and habitats which can be used for a wide range of gardening purposes.
In this article:
- Types of Clematis
- Clematis Varieties for Year Round Flowers
- Spring Flowering Clematis
- Early Summer Flowering Clematis
- Late Summer Flowering Clematis
- Autumn Flowering Clematis
- Winter Flowering Clematis
- How to Grow Clematis Vines in a Rose Garden
- How and When to Prune Climbing Clematis Plants
- Pruning For Clematis: Types and Methods
Types of Clematis
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Types of clematis are commonly divided into three groups, these being the early flowering clematis varieties which can flower from late winter through to spring dependent on the variety and rarely require pruning, the early large flowered clematis which generally flower in late spring and the late flowering clematis which generally flower mid-summer through to mid-autumn.
Early Flowering Clematis
These species and cultivars flower on the previous summer’s shoots. They are generally hardy but some types will require protection from any severe or prolonged frost.
They are small-flowered and usually deciduous. They do not require pruning unless they grow too large for their surroundings and while dead-heading should be done, any pruning must not be over-zealous.
A light pruning does encourage future growth for next season. Early flowering clematis include clematis Montana, clematis Alpina and clematis Macropetala species.
Early Large Flowered Clematis
These species, such as clematis henryi or clematis picardy, are fully hardy and cover a wide range of varieties.
The large flowers do best when protected from strong wind or heavy rain, so that they are often trained through other plants which offer some protection from any extremes of the elements. As well as flowering on second-year shoots, many of the species in this group will give a second display off sideshoots of the current season if pruned correctly.
Late Flowering Clematis
Late flowering species include both small- and large-flowered varieties, the latter types including the very popular clematis jackmanii superba.
Herbaceous species also come within this category. Late flowering clematis include many of the most vigorous types suitable for a wide range of purposes. The flowers grow on the current season’s growth.
Clematis Varieties For Different Purposes
The most common use of clematis is as a climber, with different varieties lending themselves to the different uses for climbers:
- Through a tree – it is important to match with the right tree or, as with many climbers, the clematis will not be able to compete with the tree for nutrients, sunshine and water. Conifers are fairly climber-tolerant, and clematis chrysocoma works well in this situation.
- Through a shrub – a vast range of clematis can be used for this. Again the ideal is to find the right match in terms of appearance and flowering seasons so that an extended display is made by managing the clematis or the shrub to flower at different times. Roses and penstemons are often used due to color preferences. Clematis Fireworks is a very popular variety for use with shrubs.
- Up a wall – Although this is often the purpose for clematis, many types do not thrive grown as the single plant against a wall. Given the range of different aspects, the best varieties that will normally succeed are the montana clematis species, of which clematis montana Grandiflora is a popular selection.
Clematis viticella Alba Luxurians is a small-flowered variety that is very well-suited to use as ground cover. Popular clematis varieties for container gardening include clematis macropetala Maidwell Hall which will grow in almost any position or clematis Carnaby for shady locations.
Clematis can also be prepared for use as cut flowers, notably clematis viticella varieties, and are best as a support for the main arranged display, but the clematis flowers do not normally survive for long.
Clematis Varieties for Year Round Flowers
These stunning climbers are among the most useful and versatile of all garden plants. Planting a selection of clematis will give abundant bloom from January to December.
There’s a place for clematis in almost any garden design. They come in all sizes from two to forty feet tall, and most will grow happily in full sun or in the shade of a north wall.
They’ll cover a garden trellis or pergola or scramble through a hedge or tree. They produce a wonderful variety of richly coloured flowers from huge saucers 6-8 inches across to opulent double blooms and dainty nodding bells.
By planting a small selection of different clematis varieties from the list of popular clematis below you can enjoy a succession of flowers every month of the year.
Spring Flowering Clematis
Clematis Armandii are probably the earliest and longest flowering. Apple Blossom (10-12 feet) is one of the best, with pink/white scented 2 inch flowers from March to May. Other very popular spring flowering varieties include:
Clematis alpina ‘Frances Rivis’
Blue/white bell shaped 2 inch flowers April – May. Height 6-8 feet.
Clematis ‘Doctor Ruppel’
Open Pink and white barred 8inch flowers April – May and again in August – September. 8-10 feet.
Clusters of green/cream scented 1 inch bell flowers April-May. Height 6-8 feet.
Clematis macropetala ‘Markham’s Pink’
Pink/mauve semi double 2.5 inch flowers April May. Height 8-10 feet.
Deep pink semi double 3 inch feathery bell flowers April -May and July – August. Height 6-8 feet.
Early Summer Flowering Clematis
A huge number of clematis flower in early summer, including the montanas and the majority of the large flowered hybrids. mong the best are:
Clematis ‘Beauty of Worcester’
Deep blue double 6.5 inch flowers in May-June and single flowers in August -September. Height 6-8 feet.
Clematis ‘Miss Bateman’
6 inch white flowers with red anthers in May and June. Height 6-8 feet.
Clematis ‘Montana Freda’
Masses of deep pink 2 inch flowers in May and June. Height 6-8 feet. The white flowered montana Grandiflora and the pale pink montana Elizabeth bloom at the same time.
Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’
Huge pink/white barred 7-8 inch flowers in May and June. Height 8-10 feet.
Clematis ‘the President’
7 inch Purple blue open flowers in May-June and again in August -September. Height 8-10 feet.
Late Summer Flowering Clematis
Several groups of clematis flower in late summer, including more of the large flowered hybrids, some for the second time. They include;
Clematis alpina ‘Hagley Hybrid’
6 inch shell pink flowers from June to September. Height 6-8 feet.
Clematis ‘Ernest Markham’
Deep magenta-red 5 inch flowers from June to August. Heavy pruning can delay the flowering period to August-October. Height 6-8 feet.
Clematis florida ‘sieboldii’
3-4 inch white flowers with a huge purple centre from June to September. Height 6-8 feet.
Clematis Gypsy Queen
Deep purple 7 inch flowers from July to September. Height 6-8 feet.
Open white 8 inch flowers with ornate brown anthers from June to August. Heavy pruning can delay the flowering period to August-October. Height 6-8 feet.
Striking wine red 6 inch flowers from June to August. Height 6-8 feet.
Open 6 inch violet/blue flowers with red anthers in June/July and again in September/October. Height 3-4 feet.
Splendid double mauve/pink 3-4 inch flowers with white markings in June/July followed by single flowers in September. Height 5-6 feet.
Clematis texensis Etoile Rose
Open bell shaped 2.5 inch pink/white flowers from June to August. Height 6-8 feet.
The native British Travellers Joy. Masses of small white star shaped flowers in July/August. Height 30 feet. Can be invasive and only recommended for a “wild” garden.
Clematis viticella ‘Etoile Violette’
Open, dark purple 3.5 inch flowers with yellow anthers from July to September. Height 8-10 feet.
Autumn Flowering Clematis
Some summer flowering varieties can be persuaded to flower into autumn by hard pruning. Popular varieties which flower naturally at this time include:
Clematis ‘Jackmanii Rubra’
Semi double, dark crimson 6 inch flowers in May/June followed by single flowers from August to October. Height 8-12 feet.
Clematis tangutica Bill Mackenzie
3 inch yellow bell flowers from August to November, followed by ornamental seed tassels. Height 10-15 feet.
Clematis texensis Gravetye Beauty
Deep red 2.5 inch flowers from July to October. Height 8-10 feet.
Clematis tibetana Orange Peel
1.5 inch open, golden yellow nodding flowers from August to November. Height 8-12 feet.
Clematis viticella Polish Spirit
3.5 inch purple flowers with red anthers from August to October. Height 8-10 feet.
Winter Flowering Clematis
It’s possible to enjoy these delightful plants even in the depths of winter. Here are four of the best;
Clematis cirrhosa Freckles
1.5-2 inch nodding white bells, heavily freckled with maroon, from October to February. Evergreen. Height 8-10 feet.
Clematis cirrhosa Wisley Cream
2 inch nodding cream bells from Janiary to March. Evergreen. Height 10-12 feet.
Clematis urophylla Winter Beauty
1.5 inch cream/white bells from December to February. Evergreen. Height 12 feet.
1 inch green/cream flowers with red anthers from November to March. Dormant in summer. Height 15-20 feet.
How to Grow Clematis Vines in a Rose Garden
A perennial plant grouping of roses and clematis is a successful combination to grow. Here is how to plant clematis vines in a bed of roses for a summer garden.
Gardeners find growing clematis and roses, as a perennial plant grouping, a smart combination that has good success. The rose and clematis plants’ cultural needs are similar, as is the need to include annual pruning into the plant maintenance schedule.
Roses attract butterflies and are well known as cutting flowers. The best choices are varieties that are fragrant, disease resistant and hardy in local regions. For winter interest, roses that develop attractive red or orange hips after flowering offer added value to the garden.
Clematis has fragrant varieties, can be used as cutting flowers and discourage deer foraging. Both roses and clematis mature to varying heights, some which will fit small spaced gardens.
How to Plant Clematis and Roses Together
Gardeners who choose sequence flowering ensure a longer span of blooms in a garden. Sequence flowering requires plants that have bloom times that follow each other or overlap. Roses are a summer blooming plant but some rose varieties have longer blooming periods. Clematis plants can be chosen by early, middle or late blooming time-frames. For example, Clematis terniflora is autumn blooming with fragrant white flowers.
Clematis and rose plant sizes are another consideration and should be chosen based on the size of the garden bed to be planted. Individual varieties and cultivars have height, spread and space dimensions that are reliable guides when making plant decisions.
One pitfall to growing clematis and roses together is inadequate spacing. Clematis requires being planted, at least, two feet away from a climbing rose bush. Another issue is providing sufficient water, while roses like approximately one inch per week; clematis also needs a lot of water. Both plants prefer moist, well-draining soil that has been amended with organic matter.
Roses and clematis plants need pruning to continue growing healthy. Clematis are pruned following three types of guidelines, based on when the plant flowers. The Clematis jackmani grows 10’ – 20’ tall with a spread of 3’ – 4’ and blooms mid-summer. This clematis blooms on new wood. Pruning instructions for roses is based on the type of bush it is, in addition, roses stay healthy by deadheading the dried flowers.
Climbing Roses Intertwinded with Clematis
Climbers are the rose bushes most often intertwined with clematis. Climbers are hardy from zones 2-8 depending on variety, older climbers called ramblers are very tough plants. They will grow as much as 30’ tall and spread 6’. Climbing rose ideas include:
- Rosa ‘New Dawn’ has pink and white continual blooms. It is known to be hardy up to zone 4 and is disease resistant.
- Rosa ‘Compassion’ has continuous flowers with petals blended with pink and apricot colors.
- Rosa ‘American Beauty’ is an older variety with very red fragrant flowers that grow up to six feet tall. However, it does not grow well in cool summer climates.
Floribundas are another type of rose bush that grows approximately three feet. These bushes will complement lower growing clematis as the vines crawl through the clumps of roses.
Shrub Roses Supporting Clematis
The shrub rose is another lower growing rose that will support clematis and needs less pruning. Rosa ‘Knock Out’ and Rosa ‘The Fairy’ are two well-known shrub rose cultivars.
Shrub Rosa ‘Bonica’ has shell pink flowers that create a mass of blooms. This tough rose bush is easy to grow. A ground cover rose series called Flower Carpet® creates a mass of blooms, as well but is hardy farther south in zones 5 – 10.
Growing Clematis in a Rose Garden
Clematis and roses make good companions in a summer garden that has full sun. Neither roses nor clematis should be crowded, allow good air circulation to avoid powdery mildew issues.
How and When to Prune Climbing Clematis Plants
Pruning clematis is quite easy, but different varieties of these stunning flowering climbers must be pruned differently to give the best results.
One of the most popular garden plants, and sometimes called “the Queen of Climbers”, clematis are glorious climbing shrubs which can produce sensational effects whether trained over a garden trellis or pergola, planted to scramble up a tree, or grown as patio plants.
Growing clematis is generally quite easy; most varieties are fully hardy and will tolerate both sun and shade. Also, although some gardeners make a bit of a mystery of how to prune them, the plants will generally accept quite heavy pruning at almost any time of year without ill effects. However, to give the best results, it’s best to prune clematis differently according to variety and flowering season, always making pruning cuts just above a joint to encourage fresh buds. Pruning guidelines for a selection of the more popular clematis varieties are given below.
First Year Pruning
All clematis benefit from heavy pruning in their first year to encourage strong root growth and a good branching habit. Cut them right down to a joint with good buds about 6-9″ from the ground. Do this either on first planting your clematis, or immediately after flowering for Category 1 varieties below, or in the following February/ March for all other varieties.
Hard pruning like this can be repeated at any stage in later years to revive a tired plant or encourage more vigorous growth.
Category 1 – Tidy After Flowering
The majority of varieties fall into this category. A light trim to encourage branching, or simply tidying up unwanted growth is all that is necessary. Tall growing varieties in this group, where access for pruning is difficult, can largely be left to their own devices unless they get out of control.
- Clematis alpina.
- Clematis cirrhosa.
- Clematis macropetala.
- Clematis montana.
- Evergreen clematis.
- Popular cultivars such as Frances Rivis, Freckles, montana Elizabeth, Freda and Grandiflora, Markham’s Pink, Wisley Cream, Winter Beauty and napaulensis.
Category 2 – Light Prune In February or March
Shorten tips to a joint with good strong buds, tidy up any unwanted growth, cut out any dead wood, and cut back weak shoots hard.
This category includes:
- All the early large flowered hybrid clematis ( although some also fall into Category 4).
- Popular varieties such as Beauty of Worcester, Dr Ruppel, Jackmaniii rubra, Miss Bateman, Nelly Moser, Piilu and The President..
Category 3 – Hard Prune In February Or March
Cut back all growth to a good strong leaf joint 1 or 2 feet above the ground.
- Clematis Florida.
- Clematis Integrifolia.
- Clematis Tangutica.
- The late large flowered hybrids, though some can be treated as Category 4.
- Popular cultivars such as Angelique, x Durandii, Florida sieboldii, Gypsy Queen, Hagley Hybrid, Parisienne, Petit Faucon, Rooguchi, tangutica Bill Mackenzie, texensis Etoile Rose, Gravetye Beauty and Princess Diana, tibetana Orange peel, and viticella Etoile Violette and Polish Spirit.
Category 4 – Optional Pruning
You can vary the flowering season for some clematis varieties by changing the pruning technique; with light pruning as for Category 2, they’ll bloom at the normal time, whereas with hard pruning as for Category 3, they’ll flower around 2 months later.
Varieties include Clematis Barbara, Carnaby, Ernest Markham, Henryi, Marie Boisselot, Monte Cassino and Niobe.
Pruning For Clematis: Types and Methods
While some points apply to pruning all clematis, different types of clematis have discrete requirements. Having identified the type of clematis, pruning should be easy.
Pruning clematis is a relatively simple process which is done in order to maintain a balanced appearance to the plant. By applying the right technique to the right type of clematis and with patience due to the sometimes trying circumstance of dealing with the delicate tendrils of a clematis, the chances of success can be greatly increased.
Many types of clematis tend to become heavy at the top and will develop long bare stems if left untended. To help overcome this, it is worth occasionally pinching out new growth while the plant is young in order to encourage it to become more bushy from lower down its stem.
Some hard pruning during the plant’s first spring, just above a good pair of buds at around twelve inches above the ground, will usually prove to be beneficial. The time of flowering and where the new growth develops on the type of clematis are the determining factors for more specific pruning.
Early Flowering Clematis
This group flowers in early summer and generally will thrive untended. As a result, it is not uncommon to see it suffer for several seasons after being left then pruned radically and suddenly.
To create a more balanced, consistent and continuing growth, it is better to prune these types, which include the clematis montana, clematis alpina and the evergreen clematis armandii types, soon after flowering each season, by removing dead, damaged and weak growth.
Clematis montana is vigorous once established so will benefit from more determined pruning especially to prevent it becoming overgrown, while clematis alpina will normally require minimal attention.
Early Large Flowered Clematis
Damaged growth should be removed from these types and the clematis pruned back to the strongest buds in spring, before new growth starts. Staggering pruning on different parts of a strong established clematis, can help prolong its flowering season. Many of these varieties can be given minimal attention most years then pruned hard every three to four years without any detrimental effects.
Late Flowering Clematis
By pruning new shoots at about fifteen to twenty inches long, additional new growth will be stimulated for later in the season. As winter nears its end, clematis in this group such as clematis jackmanii or clematis viticella can be pruned back to nine to eighteen inches above ground.
Depending on the weather, some varieties may have already started to produce new growth so some care will be required. As these varieties create new growth each year from their base, they can be pruned every year in late winter or early spring.