Is it smart to plant Clematis in the fall? The answer is a qualified “Yes.”
The only qualification of concern is with what kind of Clematis you plant, and in what climate you garden.
Types Of Clematis
There are two types of Clematis:
- Those flowering in late spring or early summer on last year’s growth
- The varieties flowering from midsummer into fall on growth made during the current year.
There are native species and glorious, large-flowered hybrids in each group.
Both types are hardy in temperate climates and can be safely planted in the fall with some special protection during the first winter, such as a thick but light and airy mulch.
You can also hill up soil around varieties flowering on old wood, so the tops won’t dry out or be killed back.
Warm Climates and The South
In the South or other warm climates, the large-flowered hybrids are sensitive to extreme heat and humidity and are likely to be risky.
But some of the sturdier varieties, like jackmani, are worth a try.
For safety’s sake, select the evergreen Clematis species armandi and paniculata, or semi-evergreen texensis or montana rubens.
Plant any time except just before or during the flowering season.
Planting Clematis In The North
In the North, it’s a different story. Species and hybrids flowering on old wood can have their stems killed by severe winters and either die or fail to flower the following season.
The herbaceous or half-herbaceous types blooming on new growth from the roots are most likely to succeed.
Among these, the hardiest are species like:
- White-flowered lanuginosa Candida
- Sweet-scented Clematis paniculata
- Urn-flowered texensis
- Clematis Virginiana (Virgin’s Bower)
Check online nursery catalogs for currently available large-flowered Clematis hybrids.
For fall planting, try to get dormant plants, well-rooted and at least two years old.
Tips For Planting Clematis In The Fall
No matter where you garden, careful planting is important to Clematis.
- If your soil is not light and porous, dig a hole two feet in diameter and three feet deep.
- Mix the soil you dig out with leaf mold or aged manure, plus sharp sand for drainage.
- If your soil is acid, mix in a generous quantity of horticultural garden lime
- Clematis insist on soil that is either neutral or alkaline.
- If your soil is very heavy and clay-like, put a two-inch layer of coarse cinders, pebbles or gravel in the bottom of the hole for drainage.
- The crown of the plant should be set one or two inches beneath soil level.
- Pack soil lightly around the roots
- Water thoroughly
- Cover the roots with a three-inch mulch of some light material to help hold moisture.
- When you plant a clematis that is to bloom on existing stems, be sure to provide a stake, pergola, trellis or some other support at planting time.
Fall Flowering Clematis: Types Of Clematis That Bloom In Autumn
Gardens can begin to look tired and faded as summer ends, but nothing brings color and life back to the landscape like a luscious, late blooming clematis. While autumn blooming clematis varieties aren’t as plentiful as those that bloom early in the season, there are enough choices to add incredible beauty and interest as the gardening season winds down.
Late blooming clematis plants are those that start blooming in mid- to late summer, and then continue blooming until the first frost. Keep reading to learn about a few of the best fall blooming clematis.
Clematis Plants for Fall
Below are some common types of clematis that bloom in autumn:
- ‘Alba Luxurians’ is a type of fall flowering clematis. This vigorous climber reaches heights of up to 12 feet. ‘Alba Luxurians’ displays greyish-green leaves and big, white, green-tipped flowers, often with hints of pale lavender.
- ‘Duchess of Albany’ is a unique clematis that produces mid-sized pink, tulip-like flowers from summer until fall. Each petal is marked with a distinctive, dark purple stripe.
- ‘Silver Moon’ is appropriately named for the pale silvery lavender flowers that bloom from early summer to early autumn. Yellow stamens provide contrast for these pale, 6- to 8-inch blooms.
- ‘Avante Garde’ puts on a show in summer and provides big, gorgeous blooms well into autumn. This variety is valued for its unique colors – burgundy with pink ruffles in the center.
- ‘Madame Julia Correvon’ is a stunner with intense, wine-red to deep pink, four-petaled blossoms. This late-blooming clematis puts on a show throughout summer and fall.
- ‘Daniel Deronda’ is a fall flowering clematis that produces gigantic purple star-shaped fall flowering clematis blooms in early summer, followed by a second flowering of somewhat smaller flowers in late summer through fall.
- ‘The President’ produces huge, deep bluish-violet flowers in late spring and early summer, with a second flush in autumn. The big seed heads continue to provide interest and texture after the blooms have faded.
Terry L. Ettinger Horticulture Consulting Services
Sweet Autumn Clematis
There are few plants, vines or otherwise, the produce more flowers over the course of several weeks than a vigorous sweet autumn clematis, right!
Native to Japan, it’s Latin name may be given as Clematis paniculata,C. maximonowicziana, C. terniflora, or C. dioscoreifolia, depending upon the reference.
Despite the confusion surrounding its scientific nomenclature, there’s no confusion regarding this plant’s reliability as a late summer through early autumn-flowering vine suitable for almost any Central New York landscape.
Simply plant a young vine (they’re very easy to find and fairly inexpensive at many garden centers) in any average garden soil (not too wet, nor bone dry) that’s fairly well drained. Providing it’s planted next to a trellis, arbor or fence that’s exposed to at least a half-day of sun, you’ll then want to stand back.
I say this because, though it may take a season or two to become established, sweet autumn clematis can easily grow twenty feet or more in a single season, overwhelming any and everything in its path!
The good news is that throughout the growing season if it takes over something you’d like to keep uncovered (nearby plants, pets, young children, etc.), just grab the offending vines by the handful and cut them back as hard as necessary. I generally need to do this two or three three times a summer to keep one of our vines off the cut-leaf Japanese maple near the waterfall above our pond, above right!
Speaking of pruning, the process is very simple with sweet autumn clematis.
Because it sets flower buds on new shoots in late summer, simply cut the previous season’s growth back to a couple of strong buds a foot or two off the ground on each stem in late winter or early spring, at left and at right, below. As soon as warm weather arrives in late April and early May, you can almost watch the new shoots grow, as it’s not unusual for them to put on the better part of a foot of growth every couple of days!
One final thought/concern regarding sweet autumn clematis is it’s ability to produce and disseminate a tremendous amount of seed each year, below left. This has lead to its escape from cultivation throughout many southern states and it’s therefore landed on a number of invasive species lists. Fortunately, having grown this vine for the better part of fifteen years and observed many other plants for at least as long, I’ve yet to see it escape from cultivation anywhere in Central New York.
So, if you’re looking for a low-maintenance vine that’ll cover a lot of ground, so to speak, over the course of a growing season – and produce a bumper crop of blooms, this clematis is for you!