October 11, 2014
Clematis are a number of plants and climbing vines belonging to the genus Clematis, within the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family. Originating from Eastern Asia, Clematis, Latin for creeping plant, is a genus of flowering plants numbering two hundred and fifty species and numerous hybrids. More hybrids are being cultivated every year. Although there are some species of the plant that grow bush-like, most Clematis are climbers, as most of the species are comprised of vigorous, woody climbing plants. Until the flower reaches several years old, the woody stems of the plant are very delicate, and can break quite easily. These plants can live for twenty-five years, if not longer.
Native to China, these climbers first made their way to Japanese gardens by the seventeenth century, and reached Europe the following century. There are a great many different varieties of the plant, regarding the formation of its flower, color of the bloom, blooming season, type of foliage and the height of the plant at maturity. Nearly every specie produces single flowers, although some species produce a double flower and some will produce a single and double combination. The bloom of the Clematis has been known to change colors during its lifetime, especially when growing in full sun. Many of the species produce a scent; however, its scent is not very strong. It can take Clematis several years for it to mature and to begin flowering.
Known as the “Queen Of The Vines,” Clematis are cherished for their capability to climb up walls, fences and other like structures. This plant does have a reputation as to being difficult to grow, however when provided the right growing conditions, this flower thrives. It loves the full sun (requiring at least six hours each day), although it will bloom in partial shade. The pastel colors of the plant do keep their color best if grown in partial shade. Clematis are considered a hardy plant (many species are rated for growing in USDA zone three), and grows best in moist, but well-drained soil, that is neutral to slightly alkaline in pH. If your soil is to acidic, you should treat it with limestone or wood ash every so often. Clematis seems to grow best in full sun, but likes cool shade down around the crown of the plant, where it spouts up from the ground. Mulching is a good way to accomplish this, however, keep the mulch a few inches away from the crown, as to prevent the plant from rotting.
Depending on the species, the flowers usually have four petal-like sepals, but no true petals. Some species have as many as eight sepals. Having as many as one hundred blooms per plant each growing season, the blooms range in color from purple, red, blue, pink, yellow and white to a multicolor. These flowers can range in size from as small as one inch up to ten inches. The plant itself can range from two to four feet up to thirty feet tall, again depending on the specie. The leaves are grown opposite each other and are composed of leaflets and leafstalks. The leaves entwine around whatever it is climbing up, wrapping its leaf stems around something as opposed to Morning Glories that climb by growing up around an object. These vigorous climbers need something to climb up when they are first transplanted.
If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!
Steven H. Spring