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Different Clematis varieties

clematisClematis are probably the most popular type of climbing plants in the UK, thanks to their beautiful flowers and ease of cultivation. The wide variety of clematis available means you can enjoy their colourful display throughout the year.

Some are rampant climbers that can be trained up a tree or wall of a house. Other types are low-growing plants that can be used at the front of borders. Some clematis are even suitable for growing in hanging baskets or pots on the patio.

Recommended varieties

Spring-flowering clematis

  • C.macropetala 'Markham's Pink': a hardy variety producing deep pink, double flowers in mid- to late spring. Height: 3m (10ft).
  • Clematis montana var. rubens 'Elizabeth': popular vigorous variety with pale pink flowers and a vanilla scent. Good for covering large areas. Height: 6m to 9m (20ft to 30ft).
  • C. montana var. rubens 'Tetrarose': this is one of the longest flowering montana varieties. The large flowers are deep mauve-pink with a spicy clove fragrance. Height: 8m (26ft).
  • C. alpina 'Jacqueline du PrĂ©': a strong-growing variety with large, mauvey-pink flowers with a silver edge. It has attractive seed-heads throughout winter. Height: 3m (10ft).
  • C. armandii: a rampant evergreen species with large, pointed, dark leaves with a leathery texture. The creamy white blooms flower in mid-spring and have a delicate scent similar to hawthorn. It can be prone to wind damage and early growth can be damaged by late spring frosts. Height: 4m to 6m (15ft to 20ft).

Early to mid-summer-flowering clematis

  • C. 'Belle of Woking': this clematis has large, double, silver-grey flowers with yellow stamens in summer. Height: 2.5m (8ft).
  • C. 'Beauty of Worcester': double, deep blue flowers with a white centre in early summer. It has single flowers in September. Height: 2.5m (8ft).
  • C. 'Countess of Lovelace': this hybrid produces double, light mauve-blue flowers, as well as single flowers later in the year. Height: 2.5m (8ft).
  • C.'Henryi': an old favourite that was bred in Edinburgh by Issac Henry in 1880. It has large, cream white flowers with chocolate brown anthers from mid-summer to late summer. Height: 3m (10ft).
  • C. 'Nelly Moser': a popular free-flowering clematis. Flowers are white with a broad pink bar down each petal. Flowers from late spring to early summer, and then from late summer to early autumn. Height: 2.5m to 3m (8ft to 10ft).

Late summer to early autumn-flowering clematis

  • C. 'Betty Corning': this hardy free-flowering clematis has light bluish-mauve, bell-shaped flowers and a delicate scent.
  • C. 'Bill MacKenzie': produces bright yellow, lantern-shaped flowers and long, silky seed-heads for winter interest. Height: 5m to 6m (16ft to 20ft).
  • C. 'Black Prince': has dark reddish purple flowers with silver on the outside. Height: 3m (10ft).
  • C. 'Etoile Violette': this clematis has deep violet flowers with cream stamens. Height: 3m (10ft).

Herbaceous clematis for the border

  • C. 'Arabella': a free-flowering clematis that produces an abundance of blue flowers. Height: 3m (10ft).
  • C. x aromatica: violet-blue flowers with a lovely hawthorn scent. Height: 1.2m (4ft).
  • C. tubulosa 'Wyevale': large, bright blue, hyacinth-like flowers with a strong scent from late summer to autumn. It is suitable for bushy ground cover. Silver seed-heads occur later in the season. Height: 1.2m (4ft).
  • C. integrifolia: delicate bell-shaped, blue flowers with cream anthers from mid-summer to early autumn, followed by fluffy, silver-brown seed-heads. Height: 60cm (2ft).

Winter-flowering clematis

  • C. cirrhosa 'Freckles': produces cream, bell-shaped flowers all winter, with orangey-red spots inside the flower. It requires a mild climate. Pruning is not necessary.
  • C. cirrhosa 'Jingle Bells': produces creamy white flowers, which have a delicate lemon scent, during the Christmas period. It requires a mild climate. Pruning is not necessary.

Clematis for shady spots

  • C. alpina 'Frances Rivis': deep blue, bell-shaped flowers in mid- to late spring. Height: 3m (10ft).
  • C. tangutica: bright green leaves with yellow, lantern-shaped flowers, followed by large seed-heads. Flowers from mid-summer to late autumn. Height: 5m to 6m (16ft to 20ft).
  • C. 'Jackmanii Superba': this clematis was raised in the famous nursery Jackmans of Woking in 1878. It has rich purple flowers with greenish-cream anthers. It flowers from mid-summer to early autumn. Height: 3m (10ft).
  • C. 'Dawn': bronze foliage in spring with whitey-pink flowers and deep red anthers from late spring to early summer. Height: 2m (6.5ft).
  • C. 'Elsa Spath': large, flat, deep blue flowers with red anthers from late spring to early autumn. Height: 2.5m to 3m (8ft to 10ft).

Clematis for pots on the patio

  • C.'Daniel Deronda': purple-blue flowers with creamy yellow anthers. The flowers are semi-double in early summer and single from mid-summer to early autumn. Plant develops attractive but unusual looking seed-heads. Height: 2.5m (8ft).
  • C.'H.F.Young': this compact free-flowering plant produces blue flowers from late spring to early summer, which transform into attractive seed-heads. Height: 2m (6.5ft).
  • C. 'Miss Bateman': an old, free-flowering, compact cultivar with white flowers tinged with pink and contrasting red anthers. It flowers from late spring to early summer, and then later from late summer to early autumn. Height: 2m (6.5ft).
  • C. 'Royalty' : a compact plant with semi-double, purple-mauve flowers in early summer and lighter coloured single flowers in late summer. Height: 2m (6.5ft).

Growing tips

Clematis require a fertile, moist but well-drained soil. They like to have cool roots so it is a good idea to plant a low-growing shrub or place rocks in front of the clematis to create shade.

Soak the clematis in a bucket of water prior to planting.
Dig a hole, slightly deeper than the depth of the rootball.
Add well-rotted organic matter such as manure, general-purpose compost or leaf-mould to the hole.
Place the clematis in the hole, ensuring the crown of the plant is about 5cm to 7cm (2in to 3in) below the surface of the ground.
Fill in around the plant with a mix of soil and organic matter, such as compost firm in the soil around the plant using your fingers.
Water the plant thoroughly after planting, prune back to about 15cm to 20cm (6in to 12in) tall to encourage fresh growth.
Cut above a healthy pair of buds.

In the following years:

Mulch clematis in February to March each year.
Feed with liquid fertiliser regularly during the growing season.
Continue to feed after flowering to ensure good growth is made for the following year.
Tie in new growth regularly during the growing season to keep it tidy.
Water during hot, dry periods.

Tips for growing in a container:

Put the clematis in its pot in to a bucket of water prior to planting.
Ensure the pot you are going to plant into is at least 45cm (18in) deep.
Avoid using plastic pots as they will not protect the roots from frost.
Fill the pot with a potting compost such as John Innes No 2 or No 3.
Plant the clematis with the base of the plant about 5cm to 7cm (2in to 3in) below the surface.
Cover the surface of the soil with gravel or pebbles.
Give the clematis support to climb up such as bamboo canes or wire mesh.

In the following years:

Feed each year during the growing season with a general-purpose liquid fertiliser.
Each year remove the top 2.5cm to 5cm (1in to 2in) off the surface of the compost and replace with fresh potting compost.
Water each day during dry periods.
Tie in new growth and renew climbing support when necessary.
Wrap the container with bubble wrap during the winter to prevent frost damage to the roots.

Problem solver

Pests and Aphids: Check regularly for an aphid infestation, particularly on the new growth. Spray with an appropriate insecticide to prevent further damage.

Slugs and snails: Nibbled, broken shoots and leaves: slugs and snails probably cause this. Use slug pellets or beer traps to catch them.

Diseases and Powdery mildew: Leaves, shoots and flowers develop a whitish-grey dusting. In extreme cases this can kill the plant. This is caused by powdery mildew. Regular watering during dry periods should prevent this. Spray with an appropriate fungicide in severe cases.

Clematis wilt: The upper part of a clematis starts to wilt, collapse and eventually dies. This is caused by clematis wilt.

It is more common on the large-flowering varieties. Remove the infected material immediately, even if this means cutting the plant down to ground level. Burn the infected material. There is no chemical available to amateur gardeners that can treat this problem.

Experts claim this is not as common a problem as people think. There are other reasons why clematis wilt. For example, lack of water or slug damage at the base of the plant.

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