Clematis Combinations

I swear, this is my last clematis post for a while. But I wanted to share with you a couple of appealing combinations I’ve come across (or in some instances, designed) of clematis with other plants. Some are predictable, others not so much.

The first time I saw a clematis planted with a tree, it was in England in 2003 when my tour group was visiting Heale House, an eight acre garden in Wiltshire. The garden has a lovely red Japanese bridge over a river near a weeping willow, a little nursery on site, and other beautiful sights. But what caught my eye as a newly hatched designer was this view (admittedly not a terrific photo) of a burgundy-colored clematis climbing up a Forest Pansy redbud tree. I thought it was an inspired combination.

Clematis combinations, red clematis, Forest Pansy redbud tree

An unknown red clematis growing through the branches of a Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' at Heal House gardens in England.

The trick would be getting the clematis established and attached to the trunk of the tree, giving it time to reach the light and do its thing. I’ve tried it once in a client’s garden but some unknown critters kept nicking the stems and we finally had to admit defeat.

The second combination is more traditional – clematis with roses. I had a client with a custom-built lattice on the side of her garage, and we planted climbing rose ‘Zepherine Drouhin’ and Clematis ‘Perle D’Azur,’ which proved a very successful match.

Rosa Zepherine Drouhin, Clematis Perle D'Azur

Zepherine Drouhin climbing rose and Clematis Perle D'Azur blooming at the same time on a lattice support

(A similar combination, which I saw at Old Whyly in England, would be climbing Rose ‘New Dawn’ with Clematis ‘Prince Charles.’)

Last but not least, a couple of years ago a client asked for some climbing plants to soften the side of his brick pool house, visible at the end of the driveway. I opted for a climbing honeysuckle, pyracantha, and Clematis ‘Niobe.’ About five years later, all three are doing well, and the pyracantha/clematis combination looks stunning in May.

Clematis Niobe, pyracantha, plant combinations

Left to right: Lonicera (honeysuckle, unknown cultivar), pyracantha, and Clematis 'Niobe' on a brick wall.

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6 Comments on “Clematis Combinations”

  1. Laurrie Says:

    That first photo of the deep dusky hues of redbud and clematis is calling to me. I just planted a ‘Forest Pansy’. Now I am thinking seriously about finding a wine colored clematis. I never would have thought to put deep red with purple foliage but it really works.

  2. Susan Hirsch Says:

    i can’t get enough of your clematis photos!

  3. Angie Lovell Says:

    I love the combination! I have a climbing rose and all the vines fullness is on the top of my trellis. The Clematis vine probably would fill in on the bottom. Anyway I love the idea.

  4. FlowerGal Says:

    Thanks for sharing! One of my favs is the clematis! I read where you need to train your clematis each year to grow horizontally or it will bloom top-heavy instead of having blooms towards the bottom too (similar to how you do a climbing rose; except doing that you will get more shoots to get more roses going up). Also prune it down every year… you can just wait for it to bloom in spring if it is the kind that blooms early then prune it 2/3 way down for fall blooms. I usually prune my 4 clematis in February; always comes back about 3′ by end of March. After they finish their month or so bloom time I prune them at leat half way down again.I also protect the roots by planting some flowers in front that add contrast and hence serve 2 purposes. I live in the southeast, bordering zone 7/8.


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