How To Keep Clematis Blooming From Spring To Late Fall

The clematis is one of my favorite vines with its many varieties with flowers that range from small bell shapes to large doubles the size of a small dinner plate. Since there are early and late flowering varieties by choosing carefully it is possible to have continuous color throughout the season. This is the subject of the latest interview by Margaret Roach where she quizzes Dan Long of Brushwood Nursery on how to really stretch the clematis season in our gardens. I found this on her A Way To Garden website.

Q. I know you are in the Athens, Georgia, area?Zone 8ish?
A. They claimed we moved from 7B to 8A, and this past winter I would believe it. But we still do get some really cold temperatures, down to 7 or 8 degrees Fahrenheit.
Q. So from the first Clematis bloom there to the last, what?s your potential Clematis season, with all the possibilities?
A. We have some that have already bloomed in March?like the new Sugar Sweet hybrids, and the montana types, though we are really at the hot end for growing most montanas. They don?t like hot summers; most of them don?t live very long here. And then we go all the way up into November, with a few of them covering many of those months.
Q. So you are talking like nine months or so of Clematis potentially for you where you are. How many clematis do you have in your collection at last count? You are a madman I know. [Laughter.]
A. [Laughter.] We probably have over 400 different varieties here.
Q. Oh, my goodness. So with the idea that we will stretch the season and move through the progression, what are some of the ones that we can stretch the season with, back into early, early spring?
A. Those are two of the new ones that are very exciting: ?Sugar Sweet Blue? and ?Sugar Sweet Lilac?? [above, right to left]. They?re very early, and fragrant, too, which is really terrific.
Then you get into the alpinas and montanas, and the macropetalas?all very early blooming Type 1 species and hybrids. Even up North, they can start in April. [Below, a macropetala called ?Lagoon,? and a montana called ?Natalie Cottrell.?]
Q. And then do we get into the main event?the ones that people are most familiar with?
A. Right, and they are called the large-flowered hybrids, and they are late spring into early summer. There is a really wide range of genetics in there, so they?re often divided within the early, middle and late large-flowered hybrids. But they are all what we would call late spring.

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