Purple Clematis Flower

Clematis is a beautiful, showy flowering vine that every garden should have growing in it. 

It's nickname is "Queen of the Vines" and, in fact, the name 'Clematis' itself comes from a Greek word for "climbing."  And climb it does ... once established, some Clematis can grow to 20 feet or more!

I was super excited to find a Clematis growing when we bought this house. I snapped these photos just a few days ago (and yes, it is rather nicely covering an old picket fence that really needs to be painted!) Since I didn't plant the Clematis, I can't be sure of the variety, but it's a lovely purple (my favorite color) and the flowers are easily 5 or 6 inches across.

Clematis has the reputation of being a picky, hard to please plant, but if you give it what it wants, it is pretty easy to grow. 

How to Make a Clematis Happy

Clematis like full sun (6 hours or more).  However, they don't like to have hot feet (who does?) - so be sure to give their roots some shade, or keep their roots well mulched. You can also plant other perennials around it's base to help keep the ground around the roots more shaded.

Clematis like well draining soil kept consistently moist. The pH should be around 7.0 (neutral). They benefit from spring fertilizing and it's good to work in a lot of organic matter to the planting area as well.

Most Clematis need some support, and , since some get larger than others, you'll want to match that up with the ultimate size of the variety you are planting. They'll grow up pretty much anything - from trellises to walls to lamp posts or mailbox poles to trees and shrubs, but keep in mind that their twining petioles are rather fine and may need something on small side to grasp onto.(The petioles are the stalks that hold the leaves, and they will twine around supports to help the vine continue to grow upward.)  If you decide to try to grow Clematis up a wall, you may need to install some thin wire supports for it to grasp onto and grow up on.

Clematis vine growing on a fence

Some Clematis take a few years to become established and flower freely, but they are definitely worth the wait! Be sure to take extra care of them until they are established and they will pay you back with beautiful flowers for years to come. Some Clematis will live up to 50 years or more if taken care of! 

Clematis Vine

You Say Clem-AT-tis, I say CLEM-uh-tis

So, just how do you pronounce Clematis?  The Oxford English Dictionary states that the correct pronunciation is CLEM-uh-tis and “a frequent mispronunciation is clem-MA-tis”.  However, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary both CLEM-uh-tis and clem-AT-tis are acceptable.  

I pretty much say CLEM-uh-tis.  How about you?

Jun 13 2013
Posted in: Flowers

Join the Conversation!

Angie L.
Horticultural Zone: 5
June 14, 2013

Such beautiful flowers! I love them too :-)


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