Monthly Archives: August 2017

viorna and texensis groups

the viorna group is unusual in that instead of having lots in common, these vines differ in cultivation and appearance. They can be woody vines, sub -shrubs, or more like herbaceous perennials, some need damp soil, some like it hot and dry, and for the most part they all have at least one fussy requirement that needs your attention for them to grow well in a garden setting. I know this is supposed to be about easy to grow plants, but some of these requirements might fit right in with  your garden conditions which will of course make them easier to grow.

interesting fact; many of our native ( to the US ) species of clematis get lumped here including texensis, c. crispa, c adisonii, c. pitcheri, c. viorna c. glaucophylla and c. reticulata   reminding us yet again that just because a plant is native doesn’t mean it will grow either well or easily in your yard.

let’s talk about one of the most beautiful yet frustrating, c. texensis . ph roslina 0409 clematis texensis redClematis texensis is a beautiful bright red and has been used in breeding to attain variations of the color . You will not find the straight species anywhere in retail nurseries as it is most difficult to propagate and rare even among collectors. The hybrids of texensis, however, are often found for sale and are bear striking flowers on the reddish pink side . A few well known varieties are

Duchess of AlbanyImage result for clematis duchess of albany

(image from Brushwood Nurseries where you can purchase many of these plants)

Princess Diana (image from RHS)

Image result for clematis princess diana

Princess Kate (image from crocusuk)

Image result for clematis princess kate

and Gravetye Beauty



All of these vines are  susceptible to powdery mildew which will discolor and eventually defoliate the vines. I tried for years to get Gravetye Beaty to look good in the garden , alas,  this year I gave up and ripped my two vines out before I could change my mind and I really feel good about that decision. It became such an eye sore no matter what I tried and although I loved the flowers , that just wasn’t enough to warrant keeping them. I have had much better luck with Princess Diana and the Duchess of Albany, I would choose these for easy care plants if grown in full sun.

(For clarity I will make what seems like a stupid statement here, clematis texensis gets put in the Viorna group yet  most of it’s hybrids are in the Texensis group. No one said this was easy lol)


Clematis viorna  (AKA vasevine, leather flower) is a species that is highly variable in form and flower and due to some on going field research being done is about to get split into many new species and sub species .  I waiver in my loyalty to either lumping the species together as they currently are (making it easier to remember and ID )and splitting them up which requires me to learn more names but is better for accuracy.

c. viorna has adorable leathery pinkish bells and spectacular feathery seed heads and can be quite vigorous  (read:easy)

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C.crispa, is sometimes called Swamp leather flower , and that will give you a clue what differentiates this one from the group….water. Unlike mot clematis , It likes wet soil and can even tolerate being water logged which would kill it’s cousins. . If you have a spot that meets this requirement I would rate this plant as easy to grow. It sports recurved white-lilac bells and the vine tends to be pretty open and sparse.  The one thing clematis is the viorna group definitely share is the adorableness of their flowers. Petite and sweet.

Photo again from Brushwood. I did finally dare to plant this clematis here in my dry sandy soil, it is right next to the hose and and although not flowering yet , it is alive and growing , fingers crossed.

Image result for clematis crispa

Clematis odoriba is a cross between viorna and crispa. It is and extremely free flowering vine  whose intense pink flowers face slightly upward making them a wonderful addition to my back arbors where we can see the top-most blooms over the fence.  I adore this vine, it is ignored out back and is thriving in neglect .IMG_2547

the crappy picture is from my phone which usually does a better job.

Another from this group I grow here is clematis fusca, which as soon as I figure out just what it is looking for to bloom and be happy I will let you know. So far every location and soil amendment etc I have tried has just shown me what makes it sulk and die back. I look forward to seeing the very unusual flowers in the garden as opposed to plant catalogs



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So keep in mind, if you have wet or heavy rich soil , try clematis crispa.

Baking sun?? plant   any of the c. texenis hybrids

If you have average soil you can easily grow c. viorna and c. odoriba.

and if you successfully grow c. fusca, congrats to you!  Please fill me in on what it likes, I am all ears!!!






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heracleifolia group

now this is a very interesting bunch of clematis given how unlike the typical , or I should say  most well known varieties,look. Instead of thin twiney and grabby vines, the shrubby  heracleifolias have relatively  large leaves, thicker stems,  and a extremely lax way of growing ,

They have no modified petioles to climb with so you can either 1.) tie them onto a support 2.) tie the vines to each other to make it look like a shrub ( whence they will resemble a hydrangea bush) or 3.) let them do as they will and sprawl into the garden or better yet down over a wall.

Here in the burrow I do all three . When letting them find their own way into the garden though, i do find I need to help a little with some careful redirection given that they emerge and really get going after many of the herbaceous perennials are filled out and they need to have their position adjusted so they are either in the middle of or under the other plants and no one gets smothered by all that lovely foliage.

What makes growing this group of clematis so easy is that they are more like the herbaceous perennials in the garden and die back to the ground every winter making pruning a cinch. The leaves are untroubled by the browning and dying off that other clematis are notorious for, instead holding on to their lush green coloring all season long , and they tolerate dry conditions very well.

They bloom in the latter part of summer, August into September and their little white, purple or blueish bell or star shaped flowers ( reminiscent of hyacinths) are a welcome sight when the garden need a pick me up,

Clematis stans is one in this group that you need to grow from seed.  I have never it seen sold  as a plant , but the seeds are  easy to germinate and will flower either that year or at the latest in it’s second. The late-great Christopher Llyoyd famously described this clematis as “bearing flowers of a spitefully non contributory off-white skimmed milk coloring”. High praise indeed!  It just goes to reaffirm a lesson we all need to hear in this day, that you can adore many parts of a person  ( in this case bordering on worship) and still disagree with them on certain things. Given that c. stans is very variable in it’s flower color and fragrance , it is worth sowing a few to see what you get.

This one I started last spring is flowering and looks more lilac colored and is highly fragrant, reminiscent of lilies.DSC_0008 DSC_0006

One clematis in this group I recommend all the time is Mrs. Robert Brydon. (click name to read my plant profile )

Mrs. Robert Brydon, with it’s fancy name,  is more widely available than the other heracleifolias (I have even seen it at big box stores ) and has the same clean and green foliage as others in this group.




The  flowers grow on short stalks in clusters and are lovely both in bud and when open,

buds of Mrs. Robert Brydon

buds of Mrs. Robert Brydon


the further open the flowers get,  the more the stamens protrude  in a little mini firework display. This one wins a cuteness award.


The last clematis  in this group I grow is  it has petite  urn shaped flowers that are said to be highly fragrant, my plant has yet to bloom (although it looks beautiful and healthy) so I will leave you with a tease and a promise to post photo when it does for you to enjoy, a promise I wish could make you about the scent , maybe someday it will bloom on an Open Day.

next week we talk viornas including many of our natives, stay tuned!

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