Clematis, the queen of vines, brings profuse, colorful and fragrant flowers to the garden. It’s a vigorous climber that can grow 30 feet tall or top out at shorter than 2 feet. Flowers can grow 4 to 6 inches in diameter and bloom in purple, blue, red-violet, yellow, white, rose and variations. Gardeners plant the vine for its beauty, but also to provide privacy, to brighten up a wall or to hide an unsightly view. Some clematis need moist soil, while others are drought-tolerant. Choosing companion flowers for clematis depends on the sun, water and soil on the site.
The word "clematis" originates from the Greek word “klema,” and it means “a vine branch.” There are more than 290 species of clematis and hundreds of cultivars. It belongs to the buttercup family, so it is related to peonies, anemones and buttercups. The vines have been cultivated in Europe since the 16th century.
Rhododendrons and clematis can grow well together in some soils.
Ray Bosman, professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, wrote about clematis and complementary plants collegiate publication. He explained: “Clematis prefer a higher soil pH, however, a more important requirement is an organic rich and well-drained soil. There are many examples of clematis growing quite well among rhododendrons and azaleas in acid soils.”
Roses complement clematis.
The rose is a good choice to plant with clematis, according to researchers at the University of Washington’s Botanic Gardens. They wrote in a gardening column, “The reason that clematis and rose make good companions has to do with the rose providing the structure the clematis needs, and the pairing allowing for interesting combinations of color and shape.”
In the wild, the clematis grows well alongside big leaf aster, buffalo berry, shadbush, Canada mayflower, alum root, wild columbine, white and red pine, early meadow rue, rice grass, cow wheat, club moss, bunchberry, and honeysuckle. These associated plants were noted in a Michigan State University newsletter.
If the clematis grows in full sun, consider daylilies as a companion. These tough perennials are low-maintenance and take the light. The orange color complements the purple shades of clematis. Another orange color choice is the marigold. It thrives in full sun and is a compact flower that looks good with the showy clematis. Dusty miller, with its yellow flowers and silver-gray foliage, will give the clematis roots the shade they need. It loves full sun.
If the clematis grows in partial sun or shade, consider lobelia. It likes partial sun and blooms in shades of yellow and lavender. It will fill in around the feet of the clematis, without disturbing the roots. Violas and pansies take partial shade and they will also complement the vine.