A Complete guide to Clematis

Meeting of the Biddenham Gardeners Association on Tuesday 19th March 2024

There was a large turn out for this month’s meeting which was on the subject of Clematis. The speaker was Peter Skeggs-Gooch who gave a talk “A complete guide to Clematis”. This is a combination of his talks on “Clematis for Every Season”, “Different Ways with Clematis”, and “Planting, Pruning and Care”  …

Peter started with describing the various Clematis which bloom during the whole year. 

The first was Jingle Bells which came to us from the Mediterranean and despite that is very hardy. It likes free draining soil, grows to 10 to 15 feet in height and blooms in January, February and March – it has a citrus scent.

Wisley Cream has a glossy, waxy leaf and flowers in January, February and March. It should be grown over a structure as the flowers hang down. It likes free draining soil.

Early Sensation This is an evergreen which flowers in March, April or May. It is ideal for containers and has a prolific seed head. Unlike many clematis it is not a self pollinator.

Albina Plena A fantastic climber – a real work of art. It climbs to 12 feet, is deciduous, and comes into leaf quite early in the year.

Bredon Blue is spring flowering, has blue flowers as its name indicates, climbs to 8 feet in height and has an abundance of flowers.

Elizabeth (a Montana) will grow to 30 feet, and has a great quantity of flowers. It flowers in the spring.

Pink Perfection (a Montana). A hardy plant and nicely scented. Spring flowering.

Diana’s Delight Has an abundance of large flamboyant flowers which appear in May and June.

Charmaine Evipo 022 Flowers in May and June (double flowers) and will flower again in August or September (single flowers).

Shiko This clematis which originates in Japan was introduced at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2012. It flowers in August/September, and as the flower ages, the outer petals fall away.

Forever Friends flowers in the later summer from the second week of June to September. It is very hardy and easy to grow.

Integrifolia Alba is excellent ground cover. It grows to 2 to 3 feet, and needs support unless being used as ground cover. It flowers in June, July or early August, and is attractive to bees.

Praecox Dense ground cover. Incredibly prolific and easy to grow. It thrives on neglect. Peter advised Gardeners World on this plant.

Gravetye Beauty This flowers from July to October and grows up to 8 feet in its first year.

My Angel Grows up to 10 feet in the first year. Has lovely bright green foliage.

Helios Grows 4 to 6 feet. Flowers July to October.

Avant Garde Grows 10 feet in one year. Flowers from June to September/October.

Super Nova  A recent introduction and extremely hardy.

Purpurea Plena Elegans  A favourite, sells very well. Has existed for over 130 years. Grows to 10 feet, flowers July to October.

Rehderiana grows to 15 to 18 feet, thrives on neglect. Flowers July to October.

Peter recommends the following for growing in containers: Michiko Evipo 044, or Pixie which grows to 2 or 3 feet, or Countess of Wessex Evipo073 which needs a pot 20 inches in diameter and 20 inches high. The bigger the pot, the better- an old bath is ideal. For support, an old iron gate is good as it does not rot. Some clematis, such as Ernest Markham can be supported by a rose bush; 

Care of clematis:

  1. Planting: Deep planting is very important. Deep planting produces a bushy plant and therefore more flowers, cool roots and therefore less stress (to the plant) and protected crowns which protect for the future. A clematis should be planted 2 to 3 inches deeper than the container. The roots should gently teased out after soaking in a bucket. The soil frequently needs improving and should have manure and soil improver mixed in.
  1. Pruning: After flowering,  Evergreens, Atragene or Montana need tidying. Early large flowered cultivars should have a light prune in February/March. Late flowering (June to November) should be pruned hard in February or March. ALL new clematis should be pruned hard.
  1. Feeding: Sulphate of Potash in the soil and Epsom salts leaf tonic; tomato feed is also good.

Charles Duchenne

The next meeting is on Tuesday 16th April 2024 at 7.30 pm and there will be a talk on the “Cottage Farm Nursery” by Martin Cooper.

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