Plant of the Week: Evergreen Clematis

Steve Huddleston of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden talked about this plant on my program last Sunday. I mentioned how much I liked it – that its leaves are pretty enough to be a houseplant even without the flowers.

You gotta love those big, showy white blooms of evergreen clematis!

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I met this plant on a friend’s chimney in 1977. I was thinking about leaving employment with Texas A&M to work as a garden photographer for a company printing nursery catalogs and plant tags, and he had it growing on his house when I stopped by to interview. I got the job. He and his wife later became business partners and we’ve been friends ever since. And I still relish that plant.

Its foliage is almost as pretty as its flowers.

So here’s what you need to know…
Evergreen clematis (Clematis armandii)
Vigorous vine that climbs fences, trellises and tree trunks to 20 to 25 ft.
Winter-hardy to Zone 8. May require winter protection in Zone 7. (I’ve seen it freeze two times in 50 years in DFW.)
Grows best in morning sun, afternoon shade.
Prefers to have roots in highly organic soil that is shaded and constantly moist but never wet for prolonged periods.
Large (for clematis), pure white flowers in late winter. Blooms have vanilla scent.
Blooms on prior year’s growth, so don’t prune until flowering has finished.
Fertilize with all-nitrogen, lawn-type food immediately after bloom time.
Propagated from cuttings.
Most commonly available in spring, but sells out quickly. I took my photos at Calloway’s Nursery in DFW late last week. Their nurseries had taken delivery a few days before. Call ahead.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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