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.
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.
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.