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Plantidote of the Day 2011-05-25

Kathryn's picture



I figure most folks are familiar with some version of this woody, climbing vine that can just eventually take over. They are native to the United States and first noted was the Marsh Clematis in 1726. There are a hundred varieties and most climb, the flowers on the vine will change in color depending on light and as they age. They require full sun but their feet need to be in the shade and kept cool and moist. Good luck with that!

Some cultivars flower on old wood, and others on new – so pruning is tricky and you need to determine which type you have. As for range, the American Clematis Society tells us that there’s a cultivar for everyone in zones 4-11. They also say that the correct pronunciation of clematis is “CLEM-uh-tis” which the remnants of my Texas twang will simply not conform to.

When you get Clematis right, when it is dramatically full and draped on a trellis or fence it is just stunning:


EDIT: Thanks to insanelysane for the cultivar id: C. montana "Rubens." This cultivar grows up to 30 ft at maturity, requires no pruning except for shaping after flowering. It blooms on old wood in the spring, and according to the Clematis geeks it is easy to get to grow, almost unkillable and "sometimes gardeners are deterred from planting a montana because they fear it will swamp them in sheer abundance." There's a problem I would love to have!

Readers, please send twig ( images and stories for the ongoing Plantidote of the Day series. In exchange, you'll win undying fame in the form of a hat tip! Plants growing in your garden, your house, or neighbor's yard, plants from the forest or farmers' market, plants you preserved, plants you prepared (wine; cider; tea; dried beans), plants you harvested (grains; chanterelles), plants you picked (flowers), plants you dried (herbs), plants you covet or hope to grow someday. Herbal remedies, propagation tips, new varieties, etc.. And if you can, include some solid detail about the plant, too -- a story, the genus and species, or where you got the seeds, or the recipe, or your grandmother gave it to you. Or challenge us with a "Name That Plant" mystery entry ... And please feel free to add corrections and additional information in the comments.

PLANTIDOTE GROUP FORMING: Want to help gather images and take Plantidote of the Day to the next level? Of course you do! Just email twig at the address above.

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jerztomato's picture
Submitted by jerztomato on

Very floriferous :)

Eureka Springs's picture
Submitted by Eureka Springs on


twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

What beautiful little flowers!!

insanelysane's picture
Submitted by insanelysane on

Lovely Clematis montana rubins. This is a really big one... rambling easily to 20 feet. When in full bloom, my Clematis montana rubins has the sweet delish scent of vanilla.

It makes me swoon!

I like to plant clematis beside a small tree like Crape myrtle or a big shrub rose and let it scramble up into the branches. I even have a boring juniper with a bright purple clematis growing up through the juniper. It looks like I got my juniper to bloom!

I've always tried to follow the hot head-cool feet treatment you mentioned, but recently have seen that debunked. They love the sun but really aren't all that fussy about cool roots.

Kathryn's picture
Submitted by Kathryn on

Thanks insanely, I was hoping someone would know the cultivar. Yes, it had the most wonderful scent which I forgot to mention. I actually followed the scent of it through the garden, to find out where it was coming from.