Clematis Comparison

Genus: Clematis

The Clematis family includes 380+ species with various native origins on nearly every continent. Here in Wisconsin, several cultivars perform well and are reliably hardy. Mature sizes vary, but in general, as a climbing vine, they grow upward and typically on trellises or fences. Mature heights are varied; however, mature spreads are generally unlisted because vines can keep spreading, depending on how you grow the plant.

How to Use Your Clematis

Clematis can be used in a variety of garden and landscape scenarios. They’re versatile, and although their habits are typically similar, it’s usually the flower color that attracts growers. Here are some different ways you can grow them.

  • Border: intertwined in medium-sized shrubs and to act as a groundcover,
  • Containers: a focal point or “thriller” in containers, usually twining up a small trellis,
  • Cut flower garden: flowers are beautiful and make nice additions to any bouquet,
  • Pollinator garden: attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds!
  • Espalier: there is not much depth in the z-direction but it grows full in the x and y directions,
  • Groundcover: for areas where grass won’t grow or color is wanted; just don’t trellis it,
  • Privacy screen: adds beauty and density to a fence or trellis,
  • Specimen: medium to large flowers attract attention and create a focal point in any garden,
  • Urban garden: similar reasoning as an espalier, this vine does not take up as much space and can tolerate limited horizontal area as long as there is room for vertical growth,
  • Woodland garden: while not all native, some species are (i.e Virgin’s Bower) and make a nice addition or climb tree trunks if the garden is near the woods
niobe clematis grown as a specimen plant

How & Why to Prune Your Clematis

Clematis pruning is ranked into three groups, depending on which season(s) they bloom and whether they bloom on old or new wood. Pruning is important because as they mature upwards, stems can become decrepit and produce fewer flowers.

As they mature upwards, the weight of the “canopy” can become too heavy for the supporting structure or lower stems to handle. Pruning back wilted or old stems increases air circulation preventing fungal diseases.

Check out this article (with images) from Fine Gardening on Pruning Clematis.

Common Clematis Vines at Johnson’s Nursery