Available in more than 250 species, clematis (Clematis) is a deciduous or evergreen perennial with showy flowers. Blooms may be single or double and can change color during the life of the flower. Fussy about climate, clematis is most successful in temperate climates, where the roots stay cool and the foliage and flowers get sun. Clematis do well where night temperatures do not fall below 45 degrees F, according to AboutClematis.com.
A member of the Ranunculaceae family, clematis is related to anemone (anemones), ranunculus (buttercups) and aconitum (aconite), all of which prefer cool weather and have showy blooms. Blooms will alternate sides of the vine and are usually accompanied by leaflets. The family, which is comprised mostly of woody vines, contains many ornamental plants and is part of the Magnoliopsida class, which also includes magnolia trees.
Clematis blooms range in size from 1 to 4 inches, depending on the variety. The sweet autumn clematis (Clematis dioscoreifolia) has masses of small, fragrant white flowers in clusters, while the downy clematis (Clematis macropetala) has 4-inch, lavender to powder blue blooms that resemble a tutu.
Clematis leaves are generally dark green and arrow-shaped. The foliage may be divided into leafstalks, and each stalk can twist around a trellis, fence or tree trunk for support. Plants may be deciduous or evergreen, depending on the climate. The warmer the climate, the more likely the plant will retain its foliage year-round.
Roots and Early Stems
Clematis roots require cool soil and lots of support. Keep roots by covering the root system with mulch or with a shallow-rooted groundcover that will provide shade. Early stems are fragile; tie them up immediately to provide additional support.
Clematis require fast-draining, rich, organic soil. To prepare soil for planting, you may mix organic matter, including mulch, compost or decomposed bark with existing soil. This plant prefers moist soil and should be kept wet constantly, but do not allow water to pool or flood. As the plant grows in size, increase watering so the whole vine remains hydrated.