Of the more than 200 clematis species, most are deciduous vines; exceptions include useful evergreen vine Clematis armandii, as well as some interesting upright herbaceous types.
Attractive blooms come in a wide variety of shapes; they may resemble bells, stars, tulips, saucers, urns—even miniature lanterns. Each flower consists of a central brush of stamens surrounded by petallike segments called sepals. Range of flower colors is wide, from pastel pinks to crimson red; periwinkle blue through soft lavender shades, rich magenta, and dark purple; and pure white through creamy tones and even golden yellow. Unless otherwise specified, blooms are 4–6 in. across. Float cut flowers in a bowl of water to make a choice indoor display. Burn cut ends of stems with a match to make flowers last longer. The blossoms of the large-flowered hybrids and a few species are followed by fluffy clusters of seed heads, also useful for flower arrangements.
Leaves vary from pale to dark green, usually divided into leaflets. Leafstalks twist and curl to hold plant to its support.Clematis hybrids
These deciduous vines grow 6–10 ft. tall, unless otherwise noted. Flowers of most are saucer shaped and 6–8 in. across. Although there are hundreds of large-flowered hybrids in commerce, local nurseries usually offer only a limited selection of the old favorites and perhaps some of the newer, branded varieties sold as Signature, Patio, and Garland clematis. Mail-order catalogs are the best source for collectors seeking the new and different.‘Arabella’
Hybrid involving C. integrifolia. Azure blue flowers up to 3 in. across decorate a compact plant (about 6 ft. high and 5 ft. wide) that can be trained onto a trellis or left to grow into a spreading mound. Blooms over much of the summer.‘Comtesse de Bouchaud’
Bright mauve-pink flowers.
Vivid magenta-red flowers on fast-growing stems up to 12 ft. long.‘Gipsy Queen’
Flowers are velvety, dark violet.
Mauve-pink flowers on a fast-growing vine.
Longtime favorite with big white flowers.‘Huldine’
Big, vigorous grower that may reach 20 ft. Substantial enough to use as a groundcover. Profuse pearly white flowers.
Deep purple flowers 5–7 in. wide appear on 12-ft. stems from summer through fall.
Vigorous plant with deep purple flowers over a long period. Grows to 18 ft. long with support.‘Little Duckling’
Pastel pink petals have purplish pink bars. Compact grower to about 6 ft.
This old-fashioned favorite can grow to 15–20 ft., producing huge pink flowers with a dark pink bar in the center of each petal.
Substantial, leathery foliage makes this a good groundcover as well as climber. Deep ruby-red flowers.‘Ramona’
Deservedly popular hybrid with large lavender-blue flowers.
Velvety crimson flowers. Leathery leaves on 10-ft. stems make this suitable as a flowering groundcover.
This longtime favorite sports purple-blue flowers with lighter bars.