Clematis for Sun

I wouldn’t dream of presenting myself as a clematis expert. I know enough about their culture to know that some of them are “wilt magnets,” as a Completely Clematis employee once put it, and to have discovered that my neighborhood deer seem to love my ‘General Sigorski’ cultivar which annually threads its way up my shaky cedar arbor unless the lawnmowing crew damages its stems with their weedeater. It’s just happened again this year, unfortunately. But here’s a more vigorous and better protected specimen of this beautiful clematis blooming at Brookside Gardens.

Clematis 'General Sigorski', Brookside Gardens, clematis

'General Sigorski' in bloom at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland

Another favorite blue clematis of mine is ‘D.H. Young.’

Clematis D.H. Young, blue clematis, allium

'D.H. Young' clematis blooming with Allium 'Purple Sensation' in a client's garden.

Moving onto the pinks, I think the first clematis that ever inspired me as a photographer was one I saw at Old Whyly on my English gardens tour so many years ago. I think it was ‘Hagley Hybrid.’

Clematis 'Hagley Hybrid,' Old Whyly, pink clematis

A gorgeous pink clematis seen in bloom at the Old Whyly bed and breakfast in England. I think it's 'Hagley Hybrid.'

The only pink clematis I grow in my own garden is a small variety that would work well in a container, called ‘Piiluu.’

Clematis 'Piiluu', pink clematis, container-sized clematis

'Piiluu' in bloom.

Note how it resembles Clematis ‘Nelly Moser,’ a larger cultivar shown here in a client’s garden in Bethesda.

Clematis 'Nelly Moser,' Allium

Clematis 'Nelly Moser' in a cutting garden with Allium 'Purple Sensation'

Yes, all of these are pink or blue. Next week I will finish off with some darker colors (primarily reds) and photographs of clematis with companion plants with which they seem to work well. In the meantime, hope these inspire you to think about adding some to your own garden!

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5 Comments on “Clematis for Sun”

  1. Terri Says:

    I bought a blue clematis this April for a sheltered wall at the front of our house. There’s no direct sunlight at all, but was advised this would be ok as they grow well in any aspect.
    I planted it in a pot with trellis to get it going, but it’s going nowhere. It’s alive but the flowers are dying and the leaves don’t look entirely healthy.
    I’m wondering if it’s because it’s in a pot or perhaps the lack on sunlight (or both?).
    It was so pretty when we bought it (just like your first picture), and it’s so sad to come home every day and see it looking a bit more unhealthy.

    • Melissa Says:

      Terri, as I said, I’m no clematis expert. If the leaves and flower buds look droopy, it may have clematis wilt. Some people mistake this for lack of adequate water but if you are watering enough and it’s still droopy, it may be wilt (in which case there is nothing you can do but cut it back to its roots and wait for it to resprout, then be careful not to damage any of its stems as you tie it to the trellis (that’s how the disease enters the plant). If none of this helps, consult the plant center where you bought it if you can take it back in.

  2. Jean Says:

    Melissa, I’ve always been a bit intimidated by clematis, so it was with some trepidation that I added one to my new fence border last year. This spring, I nervously pruned it back to 18″. It hasn’t started to bloom yet, but it is about four times the size it was last year, has already grown to the top of the fence, and is covered with buds. I first fell in love with clematis when I encountered them for the first time during my one and only visit to the Chelsea Garden Show more than a decade ago. I’m thrilled to finally have one growing in my garden.

    • Melissa Says:

      Jean, you did just the right thing. The first couple of years it’s a good idea to prune clematis back hard as they put their energy in getting a good root system established. And in a couple of client gardens where I’ve planted clematis to climb a small trellis, we prune them back that hard every year and the result is a huge number of blooms. So keep up the good work!


  3. I love clematis they much needed cover and colour on my wall around my patio


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