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Late-flowering clematis

Climbing flames

As summer progresses, late-flowering clematis come into their own, and for me they're as much a part of summer as long, balmy evenings and cricket.

There are few plants that give me as much pleasure or colour for so little work as late-flowering clematis. Given their willingness to grow in sun or shade and to scramble up any kind of support, there's no garden that can't accommodate at least one or two.
Clematis 'Madame Julia Correvon'
Clematis produce their display on the current season's growth. That's why it's common to see these plants flowering perfectly happily halfway up someone's house, but completely flowerless at or near eye-level.

Pruning late-flowering clematis

In order to keep the flowers where you can enjoy them, it's necessary to prune them back each winter. I do mine at the same time as I prune buddleias and roses, somewhere between mid-February and mid-March.
Clematis 'Etoile Violette'
Cut them back to about 30cm from the ground, leaving two sets of healthy buds. Prune, and prune hard. It will mean removing a great mass of foliage, but nothing is lost, as none of it will produce a single flower the following summer.

Planting choices

Late-flowering clematis are ideal in a border, either trained up a wigwam made of bean sticks or growing through an earlier-flowering shrub, such as weigela or lilac. An annual prune means they'll never overpower their less-robust companions. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from, and all are tough and easy to grow, which means your choices can be based on colour and form as much as anything else.

War on wilt

Clematis flammula
Wilt is a disease that can reduce a perfectly healthy specimen to brown tatters in less than 48 hours. Affecting only large-flowered varieties, it attacks the plant just above soil level, often at a point where it's been damaged. It causes stems to turn black and collapse, which then need to be cut right back to ground level.
If you replant the clematis with 5cm - 8cm of the stem below soil level, it should re-grow. If the same plant is hit by wilt every year, cut it back and move it to another site, replacing it with a C. viticella variety.



Discuss this plant feature

Talkback: Late-flowering clematis
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malcolmathenian 24/11/2011 at 15:28

I would have liked som named varieties for good late flowers -

susan16pen 24/11/2011 at 15:28

more information in general please Ruth

reillymarie 24/11/2011 at 15:29

I appreciate any help and advice I can get. We had the most glorious clematis (Dr. Ruppel) last year, it seemed to bloom continuously but what a disappointment this year - very few blooms . Where did I go wrong? If pruning was the culprit when is it to be pruned.
I know so little about clematis or for that matter any other plants but
unfortunately, my dear husband is not well and no longer able to garden so my garden is no longer picture perfect!
Thank you for any advice.

marshaw 24/11/2011 at 15:29

what is happening to my summer clematis it is flowering great but the leaves are not good some places they are marked i keep taking these off.is this wilt please advise me if possible.thank you

marshaw 24/11/2011 at 15:30

i found this article very interesting as i am a new comer to gardening.

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