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What Is Clematis Montana?

Angie Pollock
Angie Pollock

Clematis montana is a prolific climbing vine. Native to the Himalaya and areas of China, Clematis montana was introduced into worldwide cultivation during the early 1830s by Sarah, Countess of Amherst, also known as Lady Amherst. The flowering plants produce various colors of blooms and vary in size depending on the cultivar. The vines, which generally require only moderate care, are often used in landscapes for ground cover or as a climber on trees and small structures.

In the wild, Clematis montana mainly produces white blooms that may shadow traces of pink. Wild versions often grow near wooded areas, but can also be found in open spaces, cascading over rocky areas. They can exceed 20 feet (6 meters) in length as they climb upwards on surrounding trees or along the ground.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Introduced cultivars of Clematis montana primarily produce either white or pink blooms that flower from spring to late summer. One of the more popular and largest cultivars is C. montana var. rubens. This variety is native to China with accreditation for its introduction into cultivation given to Ernest Wilson. Rubens displays vibrant green foliage with pink blooms and is often used as coverage for fences, small buildings, and ground coverage for large areas.

Other cultivars in the Clematis montana family have received various accolades, including Giant Star, Freda, and Broughton Star. Receiving the 1998 Certificate of Merit award from the British Clematis Society, the Broughton Star variety features vibrant blooms resembling the color of strawberries. Giant Star displays white blooms from late spring to early summer while Freda produces rich pink flowers. In 1993, Freda received the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from The Royal Horticultural Society.

One of the more attractable features for gardeners is growing clematis. Once established, the vines are fairly undemanding, requiring only occasional pruning and feeding. Seedlings should be planted in nutrient-rich soil in a well-draining location. Young vines should receive regular watering and established plants should only need watering during times of drought.

Pruning clematis vine should be done yearly by removing dead, damaged, or weak vines. When to prune the vines primarily depends on the specific cultivar. Early-flowering cultivars, or those that bloom in early spring, should be pruned at the end of the plant’s blooming season. Those cultivars that tend to bloom in early summer can be pruned in late winter, just prior to spring. Late-flowering cultivars, or those plants that tend to flower in late summer into early fall, can also be pruned in late winter, but should be pruned back to roughly 2 feet (61 cm) in height to encourage healthy and abundant summer growth.

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