Most Clematis are lovely vining plants. Often large flowered and sometimes fragrant, they are easy to fit into just about any garden. They are available in a wide range of colors; pure white, cream, pink, purple, yellow, red and blue. Clematis can be evergreen or deciduous, and can be grown on fences, arbors, trellises, trees or allowed to share a growing space with another shrub.
It is easy to incorporate Clematis into most Bay Area gardens where they can be grown up vertical spaces or made to coexist with other established plants. They will harmoniously share a trellis with climbing roses, or they can be interplanted among other large deciduous shrubs that offer support and structure to the climbing clematis. Interplanting not only consolidates space but extends bloom time in otherwise short-seasoned parts of the garden. Placing Clematis among other more established plants also offers shade to the root zone.
Clematis are most happy when their roots are kept cool and while giving the foliage at least 5 hours of sunlight. They prefer a rich free-draining soil, so amend the native soil around them with Greenall Planting Mix. Try to minimize disturbance to the roots while transplanting Clematis into the ground. Bury the top of the root ball about 3” below the soil line. Add a generous 2-4” of mulch to the newly planted plant to help keep the roots cool and minimize summer watering needs. They will benefit from regular feeding with a well-balanced fertilizer, like MaxSea All-Purpose. The following is a small sampling of the many Clematis species and varieties Berkeley Hort will be offering this spring:
Clematis lasiantha (Chaparral Clematis)
A Bay Area native produces clusters of creamy white flowers. Chaparral Clematis blooms during the spring and summer then produces showy silky silvery seed heads in the fall.
One of the most famous varieties of all, this Clematis has been used in gardens since 1862. It produces large dark purple flowers that fade to a soft shade of violet. A late blooming variety, it is exceptionally cold hardy.
This evergreen species, native to China, is a vigorous grower and can quickly reach 20 feet. It is an early spring bloomer and produces abundant clusters of white fragrant flowers. C. armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ adds a tinge of pink to these fragrant flowers.
Clematis montana ‘Mayleen’
Strongly fragrant vanilla-scented pink flowers appear in the late spring/early summer. ‘Mayleen’ produces trusses of 2” flowers that cover the plant. A vigorous grower, it puts out bronzy new foliage as it climbs and is capable of reaching 30 feet.
Clematis ‘Comtesse de Bouchard’
A large-blossomed mauve variety that is tolerant of partial shade. This late-blooming variety blooms twice, once in midsummer and again in late fall. An award winning French heirloom, ‘Comtesse’ is still one of the best late varieties.
This spring take the time to view and enjoy these fabulous flowers. Happy planting to all!