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September 2, 2017
I have seen a small white, fragrant flower growing on a vine in the woods near my
home. It seems to be pretty tough. Someone told me it was a native clematis plant.
Do you think that is what it is?
Either that or it could be sweet autumn clematis which is very similar. Both are
blooming now in gardens and along the roadsides too. Even though they are pretty,
they are not small vines. Clematis virginiana, commonly called woodbine, is a fragrant, fall-blooming clematis that is somewhat
similar in flower to sweet autumn clematis (C. terniflora), but lacks the tough, leathery leaves of the latter. Usually the native species
has toothed leaves while the introduced one has a smooth leaf margin. While both
will bloom with abandon in late summer through early fall in sun or partial shade,
learn to recognize them and limit their spread. Most of what we see growing on the
roadsides is probably the escaped C. terniflora or Sweet autumn clematis, which is
July 1, 2017
A couple of years ago we built an arbor and I put trumpet vines on each side. They
grew and grew and got way to invasive so I've cut it all down and will be digging
up the roots. What kind of flowering vine would be good to plant? I've thought about
clematis but thinking I need something that will vine up the trellis then re-bloom
on the old wood. I don't want to have to cut it all off every year.
What about Armand clematis which is evergreen? Another option would be 5 leaf akebia
or Carolina jasmine.
June 3, 2017
I have three Clematis plants (H F Young) that bloomed spectacularly this spring.
They are about two years old. They have climbed to the top of four foot tall lattices
and are spilling over on to the ground. I was aware of some dead vines hidden in
the back near the ground. I started to prune out the dead vines and discovered that
they were dying from the ground up, or so I thought till I read your article in today's
paper. Now I'm wondering if I messed up. The vines I cut away had green growth on
Now I'm wondering what I should do. Cut back severely and wait for next spring?
Cut back a third, including the stuff laying on the ground? Or leave them alone and
let them fill back out?
H F Young is a repeat blooming clematis, blooming in the spring and then again in
late summer. Any pruning should be done as soon after the first set of blooms. If
your vines are old and woody with all the growth at the top. I think you are ok by
pruning out some of the older vines. If should give you green foliage at the base
as well as the top. I like to stagger cuts letting some grow tall and some mid-level
and some almost to the ground to get flowers and foliage throughout.
There is a volunteer vine in my yard which began blooming about a week ago. It has
small fragrant white flowers and it produces a prolific vine. The leaves are somewhat
heart shaped, with a little silver color along the veins. I thought it must be a
weed until it started blooming. What is it and is it desirable? If not, what should
I use to kill it?
The plant in question is the sweet autumn clematis, Clematis maximowicziana. It is fairly common throughout the state and is planted for its fall flowers and
sweet scent. It can be somewhat invasive, so learn to recognize the seedlings in
the spring, and contain it where it you want it. It is very easy to maintain, seeming
to thrive on neglect. It will bloom well in sun or partial shade, and has no pests
that I know of. It makes a beautiful display in late summer through early fall, but
it can get a little too happy!
September 3, 2016
Can you identify this vine for me? It came with the house I just bought and it is
not real attractive. It is near the front entry.
The plant in question is a clematis. The fluffy things are the seed pods, which I
enjoy almost as much as the flowers. Your clematis does look a bit bedraggled, but
it is a deciduous vine and will shed its leaves in the fall. Since there are seed
pods now and a couple of blooms, you may actually have one of the varieties that bloom
twice a year. If you want to shape it up you can prune it after it blooms in the
August 20, 2016
My wife was talking about moving this clematis because it was only producing a few
blooms for several years. I read your article last November 21 and pruned it leaving three
vines - one pruned almost to the ground, one knee-high and let one grow. The attached
picture of it was taken last May 16. I couldn't believe all the blooms. Thanks a
million. I was going to prune it after blooming but when I finally found your article
again dated November 21, 2015 I saw that I must have pruned it sometime after that
date. I haven't pruned it and was wondering now when to prune it. Should I wait
immediately after blooming next year or prune it now? It finished blooming several
There is no set rule for pruning all clematis plants at the same time. Some varieties
are spring only blooming plants, while others bloom all summer and some bloom only
in the fall. You need to know when yours blooms normally to know when to prune.
For spring bloomers, flower buds are set now and pruning would hurt spring blooms,
so wait and prune immediately after bloom. For summer bloomers, prune before new
growth begins in late February to early March, and for fall bloomers, you can prune
as needed until mid to late June. I like to have three vines growing, with one I
can prune almost to the ground, one knee-high, and one I let grow so I have a long
tall vine with flowers throughout. Use caution when pruning since these are not flexible
vines—they are quite brittle and can break easily.
July / Aug 2016
What do you suggest doing with Clematis, after it has bloomed? I have never done
anything with mine in past years, but a friend says she trims hers back, and it will
bloom again. Do I just take off the poufy things where the flowers were?
It all depends on what type of clematis you have, as to whether they will re-bloom.
If you have a spring-only bloomer, pruning after bloom if needed will help. If yours
blooms all summer, they should be pruned before growth begins. There are other types
that bloom in the spring, and repeat in the fall. They can be pruned after the first
bout of blooms, and will usually still bloom again. If yours is a spring only bloomer,
pruning won't help it re-bloom. The poufy things are seed heads, and I think look
attractive. They can delay flowering if you have non-stop summer bloomers, but I
don't think you have one if you have never seen any blooms.
November 21, 2015
I have a clematis vine and I never know how or when to prune it. Some years it blooms
great and other years I get few blooms. Tell me what to do.
My sweet autumn clematis grows on my patio fence and is a rapid grower as you know.
This is its third year and it is not looking so good this year; lots of dead undergrowth
showing. It's been a real showstopper two previous years but this year not so much.
I think it needs help and I am having a hard time finding out how to care for it.
The fence is 6-7 feet high and the vine has grown to the top and along the top at
a corner. Everything I can find gives different formulas for when and how much to
cut back, you are the final arbiter.
Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) is a vigorous vine which blooms on the current season growth. Prune it as hard as
you want to in late February through mid March. If yours has gotten woodier, it needs
a severe haircut—removing at least half. It usually thrives on neglect and seems to
bloom unimpeded in full sun to partial shade. It has lovely, fragrant white flowers
in late summer, but freely reseeds itself and roots where it is allowed to ramble,
so contain it.
In your column you mentioned a clematis that blooms all summer. What is the name of
it and where can I get one?
The clematis family is quite large with many options. There are spring only bloomers
which bloom on old wood from flowers set in the fall. Then there are varieties which
produce flowers on the new growth and can bloom all summer, into fall. Probably the
most common of these is the Jackman group or Clematis x jackmanii. Varieties include: ‘Comtesse de Bouchard’, ‘Alba’, and ‘Star of India’. Clematis viticella also bloom on new wood and include ‘Ernest Markham’, ‘Lady Betty Balfour’, and ‘Ville
de Lyon’. Hybrids Nelly Moser’ and ‘Henryi’ can bloom on both the old wood in late
spring and again on new wood in late summer, with the latter display not quite as
large as the earlier blooms.
What shrub would you recommend as a hedge in the Cammack Village area? I'd like to
create a living screen to hide a shed & work area in the backyard. The shed sits at
the back of the property which is fairly narrow & deep like a rectangle. What vine
would you recommend to use for a small arbor which located just out the back door
of the house on the same property?
Is the area shaded where the hedge will be planted? If so here are some good choices:
wax myrtle, illicium (Florida anise), cherry laurel and Sweet bay magnolia--this last
one is not evergreen. In sunny conditions you can use Little Gem magnolia, one of
the hollies- Foster, Yaupon, Lusterleaf, Nelly R. Stevens; or eleagnus. For the vine,
you could use a mix: trumpet honeysuckle, clematis, akebia and some annual vines:
moon flower morning-glory, cypress vine and hyacinth bean.
I have an overgrown clematis vine. Do I cut the vine back at the end of the season?
It depends on which clematis you are growing. If you have one that blooms all summer
you prune before growth begins in the spring. If yours only blooms in the spring,
you allow it to bloom and then prune in late spring, but pruning back in the fall
shouldn't be a great option for either one. Then there is the sweet autumn clematis
that blooms late summer through fall and it typically dies back during the winter.
I am considering putting clematis in a bed which now has an empty trellis. I have
never grown one before and have no idea which variety I should choose. Is there one
type which grows better in Arkansas than others? Once established, how do I care for
it? When does it need pruning, how much fertilizer, etc. I have been under the impression
that they require quite a bit of care but perhaps I am mistaken on that notion.
As long as the soil is not heavy, and the drainage is good, I find clematis to be
fairly easy to grow. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from, and most perform
well. What season do you want blooms? Some bloom only in the spring, while others
bloom all summer and then there are those that only bloom in the fall. There is also
an evergreen form called Armand Clematis. Probably the most popular group is the Jackmanii
group which blooms all summer on new growth. 'Henryi' and 'Nelly Moser' are C. lanuginosa
types, and will bloom well in late spring and can bloom again in the fall. The sweet
autumn clematis C. maximowicziana is a great fall bloomer, but can be a bit invasive
over time. Pruning is based on season of bloom. They are not drought tolerant plants,
so water as needed. Add a bit of lime to the planting soil and make sure it has ample
drainage and some organic matter worked in. Clematis are heavy feeders, so fertilize
with a complete fertilizer two to three times a year.
Is there clematis that does not require full sun? Mine has been shadowed by a tree
and is not blooming well.
The large showy clematis do need full sun, but the fall blooming sweet autumn Clematis terniflora, with small white flowers blooms nicely in partial shade. Some native woodland clematis
with smaller purple flowers also do well in the shade or woodland garden, but may
not be as easy to find. Clematis pitcheri is one example.
We have clematis about 15 years old that has very large blooms. The last few years
the lower leaves start losing their color then turn brown from the outside edges.
This problem gradually works it's way up the entire vine. It has started again this
year. Does it need less/more water, fertilizer, or sprayed?
Some of the large flowering clematis plants can suffer from a disease called clematis
wilt, but I don’t think that is the problem here. Clematis wilt causes rapid wilting
and death of the entire stem. It can cause the leaves to turn brown, but again it
is not a slow moving process such as you are describing. Make sure the soil is well
drained and for now cut off the damaged leaves. Have a soil test taken from around
the plant. Clematis like a slightly alkaline soil with good air and soil drainage.
Make sure the pH is in line and that there are not salt buildups in the soil. If the
problem continues, take a sample to your county extension office and let them send
it to the disease diagnostic clinic to try to isolate the problem.