From the ubiquitous Clematis 'Jackmanii' to one of the newest introductions, Sugar-Sweet Lilac, these hardy vines come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. And, these vines are popular for a reason- they're beautiful, easy to grow, and hardy. Being relatively disease and pest free, this plant makes a problem-free addition to any landscape.

Colors range from white to pink to deep purple with a few other variations tossed in, but the purple and white are the most common.

As mentioned above, you will find the Jackman cultivar almost everywhere. When it was first introduced by George Jackman of England in 1862, it was the first large-flower hybrid cultivar of the species. Hardy to USDA zone 4a, you will see this plant with its 5 inch purple blossoms grown on trellises, arbors and lamp posts throughout the Midwest.

These beautiful plants like full sun but don't like their roots to be too warm; shading them with deep mulch or low-growing plants will be helpful. The benefit of afternoon shade will also help keep the flowers from fading. This cultivar blooms on new growth, so it will benefit from a late winter pruning.

One of the newer additions to the family is the Sugar-Sweet Lilac from our friends at Plants Nouveau. A sweet honeysuckle perfume provides a backdrop for each violet-pink bloom throughout the growing season as it climbs 6-9 feet tall. As blooms mature, a lilac stripe appears in the center of each petal, giving the blooms dimension. This hardy, wilt resistant cultivar blooms from April to June in most gardens.


When and how to prune any plant can be confusing for the best of gardeners and these plants are no different. With these plants, the key is when the plant blooms. Early spring bloomers blossom on last year's growth, so if you want to trim them up a bit, do it after they've bloomed. Mid-season cultivars blossom on last year's vines, but they also blossom later on new growth. And finally, vines that blooms later in the summer through the fall will benefit from being pruned back to about two feet in the late winter.

This is just some brief information on these fascinating plants. For more information, try this book that's in our library- Simply Clematis: Clematis Made Simple by Edith Malek.

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