Clematis Comparison

Genus: Clematis

The clematis family includes a 250+ species with various native origins on nearly every continent. Here in Wisconsin, there are a few cultivars that perform well and are reliable hardy, like Sweet Autumn and Superba Jackman. Mature sizes vary, but in general as a climbing vine, they grow upward and typically on trellises or fences. Mature heights are varied; however, mature spreads are generally unlisted because vines can keep spreading, depending on how you intend to grow the plant.

How to Use Your Clematis

They can be used in a wide variety of garden and landscape scenarios. They're versatile, and although their habits are typically similar, it usually comes down to flower color that attracts growers. Here are some different ways you can grow them.

  • Border (intertwined in medium sized shrubs and to act as groundcover),
  • Container gardens (again, to act as groundcover or keep the vine contained),
  • Cut flower garden (flowers are beautiful and make nice additions to any bouquet),
  • Espalier (there is not much depth in the z-direction but it grows full in the x and y directions),
  • Ground cover (for areas where grass can be out of the question or some color is wanted); just don't trellis it,
  • Privacy screen (adds beauty and density to a fence or trellis),
  • Specimen (medium to large magenta-pink flowers are enough to attract anyone's attention and create a focal point in any garden),
  • Urban garden (similar reasoning as espalier, this vine does not take up as much space and can tolerate limited horizontal area as long as there is room for vertical growth),
  • Woodland garden (while not a native, some species are and this variety will still make a nice addition or climb tree trunks if the garden is near the woods)

How & Why to Prune Your Clematis

Clematis are ranked by 3 groups, depending on which season(s) they bloom and whether they bloom on old or new wood. This helps guide you on how and when to prune them. You prune them because as they mature upwards, stems can become decrepit and produce fewer flowers.

As they mature upwards, the weight of the "canopy" can become too heavy for the supporting structure or lower stems to handle. Pruning back wilted or old stems helps keep the plant open for air circulation and healthy, helping to avoid common issues like fungal stem rot.

Check out this article (with images) from Fine Gardening on Pruning Clematis.

Common Clematis Vines at Johnson's Nursery

Common Clematis Vines at Johnson's Nursery

Virgins bower (American Clematis)
Clematis virginiana

Wisconsin Native
Mature Height: 12-20 feet
Flower Color:
White
Flowering:
Summer
Flowers On:
New wood
Prune:
Prune when dormant

sweet autumn clematis paniculata vines at johnson's nursery catalog

Mature Height: 6-7 feet
Flower Color:
White
Flowering:
Late Summer and Fall
Flowers On:
New wood only
Prune:
Group 3/C - late winter

superba jackman clematis jackmanii at johnson's nursery in menomonee falls catalog

Mature Height: 10-12 feet
Flower Color:
Dark Purple
Flowering:
Summer to Fall
Flowers On:
New wood only
Prune:
Group 3/C - late winter

niobe clematis at johnson's nursery in menomonee falls catalog

Mature Height: 8-12 feet
Flower Color:
Ruby-red
Flowering:
Late-spring and Summer (repeat)
Flowers On:
New and old wood
Prune:
Group 2/B - late winter/early spring

rouge cardinal clematis vines at johnson's nursery catalog

Mature Height: 8-12 feet
Flower Color:
Crimson-red
Flowering:
Early Summer and Fall
Flowers On:
New wood only
Prune:
Group 3/C - late winter

ernest markham clematis near you at johnson's nursery catalog

Mature Height: 8-12 feet
Flower Color:
Magenta-pink
Flowering:
Summer (rebloomer)
Flowers On:
New and old wood
Prune:
Group 2/B - late winter/early spring

vancouver danielle clematis at johnson's nursery catalog

Mature Height: 5-7 feet
Flower Color:
Violet-blue
Flowering:
Late Spring, repeating in Fall
Flowers On:
New and old wood
Prune:
Group 2/B - late winter/early spring

pink champagne clematis kakio at johnson's nursery menomonee falls catalog

Mature Height: 6-8 feet
Flower Color:
Deep pink
Flowering:
Summer, again in Fall
Flowers On:
New and old wood
Prune:
Group 2/B - late winter/early spring