Clematis vines are vigorous climbers. They are adapted to growing in the shade but will take advantage of any structure to climb towards the sun. Clematis will climb shrubs, trees, garage or shed walls and any type of arbor, pergola or fence. They are heavy vines and must be grown with adequate support, someplace where they will not get out of control, because they will easily take over a garden. Their first two years are spent establishing a root system, according to grower American Meadows, but gardeners will be rewarded with abundant flowers around the third year.
‘Virgin’s Bower’ grows 10 to 20 feet tall and puts on a lovely springtime display of abundant 1-inch white flowers. Its native habitat, according to the Connecticut Botanical Society, is wood edges, thickets and stream banks. It is native to the United States and easily confused with the non-native, sweet autumn clematis, an Asian import that has escaped from gardens. While sweet autumn clematis has smooth, rounded leaves, the leaves of ‘Virgin’s Bower’ are edged with jagged teeth.
Clematis montana thrives in warmer climates, in U.S. Department of Agriculture planting zones 6 through 9. It has its origins in China and the Himalayas and grows 15 to 26 feet tall. It prefers full sun to partial shade. The flowers range in color from white to pink to deep reds and the white ones are very fragrant with a heavy vanilla-like scent.
This clematis needs a substantial structure to climb, such as a pergola or a long, stout fence. Take the neighbors’ garden into account when planting this clematis, as it will cover anything it can reach and easily smothers other plants. Clematis montana blooms on the previous season’s growth, so prune it after flowering.
Clematis viticella requires full sun and shaded roots, like all clematis vines. Prune this clematis heavily in early spring, as it flowers on new wood. There are dozens of cultivars in this group. The viticella clematis group is the most heat-tolerant of all the clematis as well as being disease resistant. The flowers range in size from 1 to 3 inches and come in a variety of colors, from white with purple veins to pink to deep shades of purple, mauve and lavender.