Plant Profile: Clematis
Common names: Traveler's Joy, Old Man's Beard, leather flower, vase vine
Clematis is a genus of 300 species of flowering vines in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. Many species are native to China and Japan. Some of the cooler temperate species are deciduous, while the warmer climate species are evergreen. Although many of these plants are climbers, there are some species that can be grown as shrubs.
Gardeners love this plant! These visually-stunning plants will add colour and life to any space. Many of the species are hardy; some can even live to 25 years or more! Clematis do best in cool, moist, well-drained soil in full sun. The key to growing clematis is to keep the roots cool by shading them with low perennials, ground cover or mulch. As a vigorous climber, the clematis will need support as it grows. Plant them near a trellis, gatepost, fence or side of a building. They also have the unique ability to grow through shrubs and trees.
Along with its climbing properties, the clematis is also valued for its abundance of showy flowers. The flowers are available in a variety of colours, including white, yellow, pink, blue and purple. They also range in shapes: tubular, flat open disks or bell-shaped. As well, these plants vary in size. Some can be as small as 1 inch, while others can reach 5 inches. It is possible to have the clematis flower any time of the year, as many varieties will flower a second time. Planting 2-3 different varieties will provide a continuous display of colour to the garden.
They also make great container plants.
Climate zones: 4-9
Interesting Flower Facts about the Clematis:
- The common name "old man's beard" refers to the long feathery seed heads.
- The vines are flexible and durable and can be used to make wreaths
- In the past, the leaves were thought to remove leprosy.
- The hollow stems were once smoked by young boys as a past time.
- The leaves are food for caterpillars.
- The seeds and leaves of the Clematis ligusticifolia, also called pepper vine, were once used as a pepper substitute.
- The name "Clematis" came from the Greek word "Klematis," meaning vine.