Easy to grow! The clematis is the climbing Jewel among climbing plants

An Introduction to Clematis

There are at least 300 species of clematis distributed throughout the temperate zones of the world, most of them being deciduous. Although most of the species are of little value in the domestic garden some are welcomed for their scent, such as the montanas and flammula, while others like orientalis and tangutica are welcomed for their seed heads.

Almost all of the species have small flowers but are fast growing clematis, and are especially good for covering garages house walls and sheds.

Easy to grow! The clematis is the climbing Jewel among climbing plants

Due to hybridists crossing the species, plants are now available for flowering from early spring to late autumn through a vast array of colours with flowers up to 20cm in diameter.

Clematis do not have true petals; the flowers are made up of enlarged sepals. Blooms lasting from 3 – 4 days each. Being members of the Ranunculacea family and relatives of the peony, delphinium and buttercup they will grow best where they have a cool root run, but have their heads in the sun.

The hybrids are divided into groups according to their time of flowering: the Florida and Patens groups flower in May and June and again to a lesser extent in September.

The Lanuginosa group begin flowering in June, ending in September/October. Both groups originate from China and flower on the previous seasons growth.

The Jackmanii and Viticella groups flower continuously from June to September/October on the current season’s growth.

Easy to grow! The clematis is the climbing Jewel among climbing plants

The herbaceous species of clematis are a welcome addition to the flower border, these range in height from 45cm-1m. Most have sweetly scented flowers; the taller types should be staked with twiggy branches.

It is these divisions that determine when each type of plant is pruned, as we shall discuss later on under pruning clematis

Buying Plants

Unless you want to have a go at propagating clematis yourself, the main thing to look for when buying a good plant is not the size but healthy growth and this is not always easy if the plant is in its dormant stage.

The months of October/November are the best times to plant clematis so look for plants that have sturdy main stems. If you are planting in spring look for fat, well formed buds in the leaf axils.

Before you decide on which clematis to buy, look at how you are going to use it e.g. if you want a plant to cover a building then don’t choose one that needs cutting down to ground level each spring.

If you want permanent cover choose an evergreen. And a plant for the flower border means choosing one of the smaller less rampant types.

Clematis is without doubt the Queen of Climbers, so take your time in choosing which type will suit your garden. Send for catalogues from specialist nurseries to give you the widest choice available.