Different Types of Clematis

There are many 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 which flower shapes appeal to you. There are Clematis in flower all the year round from Clematis 'winter beauty',  illustrated above centre, which is winter flowering all the way  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 as well. In the image above left is the lovely C. Crystal fountain,  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 up to 14m depending on the conditions. 

Clematis are classified into three groups:-

Group 1 are winter and spring flowering and include 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. These are all no prune Clematis. 

Group 2 are Clematis which flower early to midsummer and sometimes with a second flush mid to late summer. This group of Clematis has upright single, double saucer-shaped flowers and is often 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. 

Where to buy Clematis? Crocus has over 200 varieties to choose from in all shapes sizes and colours. Don't forget to keep the label! 

The early flowering Clematis illustrated above left  is C. Alpina 'frankie' which flowers in late winter /early spring with delicate flowers in light pastel shades. It has the RHS garden merit award and is H4 hardy, ideal for cold spots in the garden. It is deciduous and needs little or no pruning. In 2008, the RHS completed its trial of C.alpina and macropetala, the early flowering varieties, and there are 18 with RHS award so well worth looking at if you are buying for the garden. In addition to 'frankie', there is a  pretty pink variety called 'foxy', a Clematis macropetala  'Blue Lagoon' with semi-double blue flowers and also Clematis alpina ‘Jacqueline du Pré’ with rosy flowers, (link here for the full list.)

   Illustrated in the centre is the robust, easy to grow, popular and vigorous C. montana. There are several varieties C. montana which have vanilla scented flowers, such as rubens 'Pink Perfection' and 'Tetrarose' ; C. montana 'Elizabeth'  'Mayline' and 'Oderata'.

Clematis montana  is a large vigorous climber but there are some more suitable to smaller gardens because they are less vigorous are: C. 'Miss Christine' 5-7m , C. 'Prosperity' 5-6m and C. Freda 6m.

Contrast with Clematis armandii 'apple blossom', above right which has lovely pink /white creamy scented flowers and glossy evergreen leaves. Ideal,but it is only ** hardy, so it has to be in exactly the right spot to grow well. If you have the right spot, it is very hard to beat the beauty of C. armandii, but it must be sheltered.

See also Winter flowering Clematis.

These are 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 includes C. 'Crystal Fountain' illustrated top right. Left is Nelly Moser, a traditional Clematis with attractive stripes.  Illustrated centre 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 growing quickly to 6 meters plus and it can easily swamp the plants around; 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 online and in the garden centres. The Pinterest page shown at the bottom has many clematis images to inspire you. 

Scented Clematis

Clematis terniflora

There are a number of Clematis which are scented, illustrated left is C. terniflora which is a late flowering  and sweetly scented. 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. 

Crocus has over 50 varieties of scented Clematis on sale,  affiliate links.

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 is 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 Clematis which will tolerate semi shade. Several 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 is to keep the label as it will give you pruning advice. 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 

How to Plant Clematis

Pruning Groups 1,2 & 3

Prune Group 2

How to Prune Group 3