Thursday, August 15, 2013

Plant Profile: Clematis - For Shade: Clematis virginiana

I miss having the larger flowering clematis vines that I love. In my shaded nook, I've been so tempted to plant some. Instead, I opted to find a "native" clematis (known to tolerate moderate shade). This one has delicate white flowers; called Clematis virginiana - Virgin's Bower Clematis.
Virgin's Bower Clematis (Clematis virginiana)

About a third of the vine is covered with these star flowers and I am quite happy with the result.

In the autumn, these flowers will turn into whispy, silky seed heads - adding more interest to the garden.

Planted two years ago, I'm now able to enjoy flowers in nearly complete shade. This is more than I expected. Last year, leafy and leggy growth dominated the entire corner of my fence, with no bloom. This past spring, I cut back the vine hard - to 2 feet. Removing over 2/3rds its mass. I trained it here and there, so its growth was spread evenly and then cut again in early June - tipping back the long leafy stems to a more manageable length.

In full sun and with rich soil, this clematis grows wild. It's known to be invasive. In my situation, it's quite manageable and happily situated. Even the neighbour enjoys the stems poking through to their side. 

Next, I will attempt to grow some spring flowering Alpina varieties of clematis. See how they fair.


  1. This is great Heidi, and beautiful pictures! I love clematis too. I have two in the one sunny spot in my garden that do really well. One pale lavender and one dark wine red. The one in the shade did better this year than usual but I was thinking of giving up on it...maybe I'll try this one instead. Thanks!

    1. I have filtered light, situated under a tree canopy. Be forewarned Andrea, it can be invasive if grown in better light. On the weekend, I bought an Alpina clematis. Less invasive and also shade tolerant. Flowering in spring, though.


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