Table of Contents

Designing a Garden to Bloom Spring Through Fall

Extending the Clematis Season

As a self-professed “vine-mad” gardener, I know the immense joy of having clematis blooming in my garden from the first whispers of spring to the last gasp of autumn. It’s a long and glorious season, but one that requires a bit of strategic planning to pull off successfully.

My friend Dan Long, a clematis specialist at Brushwood Nursery, has schooled me in the art of stretching the clematis season. By carefully selecting the right varieties and employing some clever cultivation techniques, it’s possible to transform your garden into a clematis wonderland that dazzles from one end of the growing season to the other.

I live in Zone 8-ish, where our clematis season can potentially run for a solid nine months. Dan and I have put our heads together to share our best tips for making the most of this extraordinary flowering vine.

Starting Strong in Early Spring

The journey begins with the earliest bloomers, like the new “Sugar Sweet” hybrids and the montana types. While the montanas don’t love our hot summers, they put on quite a show in the spring. Even up north, these early birds can start strutting their stuff as early as April.

Other standouts in the early season include the alpinas, macropetala, and integrifolia types. These Type 1 species and hybrids waste no time in kicking off the clematis party. One of my favorites is the macropetala called ‘Lagoon,’ with its beautiful blue blooms.

The Classic Large-Flowered Hybrids

Of course, the large-flowered hybrids are what most people associate with clematis. These late spring and early summer bloomers come in a dazzling array of colors and forms, from the deep purple ‘Jackmanii’ to the pristine white ‘Rebecca.’

While these showstoppers may seem synonymous with clematis, I’ve learned that they have even more potential than I initially realized. With the right care and feeding, many of these large-flowered varieties can be coaxed into re-blooming later in the season.

The key is to cut them back by a third or half after their initial flush of flowers, then give them a good dose of fertilizer and water. This rejuvenating treatment can spur a second or even third wave of blooms, extending the season well into the summer and fall.

Viticella Hybrids for Midsummer

As the large-flowered hybrids begin to wane, the viticella hybrids take the stage. These smaller-flowered beauties may not have the sheer size of their counterparts, but they more than make up for it with their prolific and long-lasting blooms.

Some of my favorites in this group include ‘Etoile Violette,’ ‘Madame Julia Correvon,’ and ‘Purpurea Plena Elegans,’ but the list goes on and on. The viticellas are a fantastic option for gardeners who may have struggled with the more finicky large-flowered hybrids in the past.

One underappreciated gem is ‘Solina,’ a pale blue beauty that’s much more vigorous and easier to grow than the similar ‘Perle d’Azur.’ And the rich red ‘Burning Love’ is another viticella that deserves more attention.

Integrifolia Hybrids for Continuous Color

If you want to keep the clematis party going well into the summer and fall, turn your attention to the integrifolia group and its various hybrids. Unlike the climbing clematis, the herbaceous integrifolia types max out at around 3 feet tall and come in a range of blue, white, and fuchsia shades.

One of my favorites is ‘Floris V,’ a stunner with its deep blue blooms. But the real stars of this group are the integrifolia hybrids, which combine the continuous-blooming habit of the herbaceous types with the climbing abilities of the large-flowered hybrids.

“Probably the best-known one would be ‘durandii,’ which is blue and a scrambler,” Dan tells me. “And then ‘Arabella,’ which I have to say is my single favorite variety to recommend to anyone, anywhere. It grows all over the country, blooms all summer long, and you can use it as a groundcover or put it in the perennial border.”

Saving the Best for Last

As summer winds down and we head into fall, many gardeners think of the ubiquitous “sweet autumn” clematis. But this rambunctious vine can quickly become a nuisance, crowding out native plants and becoming downright invasive.

Fortunately, there are other late-season clematis options that won’t take over your entire landscape. The yellow-flowered ‘Clematis tangutica’ was a longtime favorite of mine, until it met an untimely demise after years of faithful service.

The orientalis group, including the sweet little ‘Anita,’ also put on a show in the waning days of summer and into fall. Just be mindful of their need for well-draining soil, as they can succumb to wet feet during the colder months.

Maximizing the Potential of Your Clematis

As I’ve delved deeper into the world of clematis, I’ve realized that I haven’t been doing justice to some of the plants I already have growing in my garden. Take my ‘Duchess of Albany,’ for example – some years it’s covered in blooms, while other times it seems to sulk.

The team at Today’s Gardens has helped me understand that the key to getting the most out of my clematis lies in consistent care and feeding. Just like any other plant, they need steady fertilization and vigilant watering, especially during the hot, dry summer months.

Dan emphasizes the importance of using a good rose fertilizer, as the formulas tend to be well-suited for the unique needs of clematis. And he encourages gardeners to be proactive in cutting back the large-flowered hybrids after their initial bloom, stimulating a second or even third flush of flowers.

With a little extra TLC, I’m confident that I can extend the bloom season of my existing clematis collection. And by strategically adding new varieties to the mix, I’ll be able to create a veritable clematis kaleidoscope that dazzles from the first signs of spring to the final whispers of autumn.

Embracing the Unexpected

As I continue to explore the world of clematis, I’m constantly delighted by the unexpected gems I uncover. Take the ‘Lime Close’ plant I purchased from the old Heronswood Nursery – it started out as a modest little plug and has since transformed into a massive, shrub-like structure with hundreds of deep purple “fingers” emerging from the ground, topped by a frothy display of blooms.

Or the ‘Clematis recta Purpurea,’ a double-bonus plant that offers both lovely purple foliage and lightly fragrant white flowers. These are the kinds of plants that keep a gardener like me on my toes, constantly seeking out new and delightful discoveries.

And let’s not forget the work of breeders like Raymond Evison, whose latest large-flowered hybrids are capable of blooming all season long. Or Polly Hill’s ‘Starfish,’ a pure white clematis that has managed to stay in bloom for a remarkable six months in my garden.

The world of clematis is truly a never-ending source of wonder and delight. By embracing the unexpected and staying attuned to the latest horticultural breakthroughs, we can create gardens that bloom with vibrant color and texture from the earliest days of spring to the last gasp of autumn.

So let’s get planting and keep those clematis vines climbing! With a little strategy and a lot of love, we can transform our outdoor spaces into year-round tapestries of floral splendor.

Today’s Garden is Garden and Landscape Company, provides all you need about Garden and Landscape Design to get better garden decorations.

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