Types of Clematis

There are many different types of Clematis with more varieties being bred all the time to develop ever more attractive flowers. Because there are so many to choose from it is worth looking at different images to decide what you like, when you want the Clematis to flower and the flower shape which appeal to you.  There are Clematis which are in flower all the year round from Clematis Cirrhosa Freckles, illustrated above center, which is winter flowering through to clematis tangutica 'bill mackenzie' which is late summer flowering and has lovely fluffy seed heads, image above right. 

There are 10 different flower shapes in the Clematis group: single large flowers, double large flowers, C, Montana, C. Viticella, saucer shaped, star shaped, open bell shaped, bell shaped, tulip shaped and tubular.

The size and growth of Clematis varies greatly as well. In the image above left is the lovely C. Crystal fountain which is a variety bred for growing in small spaces, patios and containers as it only grows to around 1.8 m with very attractive flowers. Compare to C montana, which is a very vigorous Clematis, and grows 5-14m depending on the conditions. 

Clematis are classified in three groups.

Group 1 are the early flowering types C. alpina, C. macropetala which have single, or double bell shaped flowers and C. montana, with large saucer shaped flowers and is one of the most popular Clematis to grow and easy. These are all no prune Clematis. 

Group 2 are Clematis which flower early to mid summer and sometimes with a second flush mid to late summer. This group of Clematis have upright single, double saucer shaped flowers and are often very showy, such as the C. Crystal fountain.

Group 3 are the later flowering clematis which have large  saucer shaped flowers in summer and early autumn.  Within this group there are also small flowering Clematis which a variety of flower shapes, saucer, star shaped, bell and open bell and also tulip and tubular. 

Information on how to plant and grow Clematis. 

The image above top center is C. cirrhosa which flowers in late winter and is evergreen. Early flowering too are C. alpina illustrated above left which flowers in late winter /early spring with delicate flowers in light pastel shades. Alpina is very hardy which makes it ideal for cold spots in the garden. It is deciduous and needs little or no pruning. 

   Illustrated center is the robust, easy to grow, popular and very vigorous C. montana. The are a number of varieties C. montana which have lovely vanilla scented flowers, such as rubens 'Pink Perfection' and 'Tetrarose' ; C. montana 'Elizabeth'  'Mayline' 'Miss Christine' and 'Oderata'. 

Contrast with Clematis armandii, above right which has lovely white creamy scented flowers and glossy evergreen leaves. Ideal in many ways, but it is only ** hardy which means that it has to be in exactly the right spot to grow so well, otherwise it may look like the one in the image which  because it is in a slightly chilly spot, its leaves are not as glossy and the flowers not so abundant. If you have the right spot, it is very hard to beat the beauty of C. armandii, but it must be sheltered.. 

This is groups 2 and 3 Clematis and are among the most showy of the Clematis family. Most have large single or double saucer shaped flowers and bloom from early summer to early autumn.

This group include C. 'Crystal Fountain' illustrated top right. Left is Nelly Moser, a traditional Clematis with attractive stripes.  Illustrated center is one of the late flowering Clematis in bloom late summer/early autumn is illustrated top right, C.tanguita 'Bill MacKenzie' with wonderful fluffy seed heads which look so attractive. It is a vigorous, easy quickly but vigorous means vigorous; 6 meters plus and it can easily swamp the plants around it so plant with care. In the right space it looks great and the seed heads are long lasting.

Far right is C. jackmanii which has large saucer shaped flowers. There are several jackmanii in the group and some are group 2 pruning, some group 3 so very important to check the label.

There are also dozens of new types of clematis offered for sale on line and in the garden centers. The pinterest page shown at the bottom has many clematis images to inspire you. 

Scented Clematis

Clematis terniflora

There are many scented Clematis, illustrated left is C. terniflora which is a late flowering vigorous sweetly scented variety. It is ideally suited to trailing along a wall or fence. Also scented is C. flammula particularity popular is 'Sweet Sensation'. Early flowering C. armandii and cirrhosa are scented and as detailed above many of the C. montanas

Easy to grow Clematis

Clematis are not the easiest of climbing plants to grow. Many have complicated pruning requirements and there is also Clematis wilt to contend with.

The easiest to grow tend to be Group 1 because you can forget about pruning. If you don't want the trouble of pruning each February stick to group 1.

Shade tolerant Clematis

Although principally sun loving there are a lot of Clematis which will tolerate semi shade. A number of the C. montana such as Oderata, Freda and Grandiflora all of which have the RHS garden merit award C. 'Nelly Moser' illustrated above is a lovely early to mid season flowering Clematis which grows to around 2-3m and fully hardy. The flowers are a lovely shade of pink with attractive stripes. Many of the Clematis viticella such as Carmencita, a lovely Crimson pink late flowering Group 3; Etoile Violette a purple Clematis which flowers well and has RHS garden merit award; and Clematis Piilu which will tolerate any aspect.

The C. Alpina group described above all tolerate semi shade flowering in early spring. A number of the specialist growers advertise many semi shade tolerant Clematis and by selecting a variety which has the logo as the RHS award of garden merit you cannot go far wrong. A tip when buying Clematis keep the label as it will give you pruning advise. If you have lost the label help is at hand, see video on clematis pruning groups. 

  Advice on how to plant, grow and prune Clematis Video on how to Plant Clematis Video Clematis Pruning Groups 1,2 and 3 explained Video How to Prune Group 2 Clematis Video How to Prune Group 3 Clematis