Climbing plants Gardening

35 Easy Clematis for Laidback Gardeners

Clematis viticella 'Venosa Violacea' with white bands on a purple background.

By Larry Hodgson

Clematis have the reputation of being capricious … and there’s a lot of truth to that. Sometimes one will grow beautifully while its neighbor, even if it is the same cultivar, languishes and a third out-and-out dies. Yet the conditions are strictly identical! It’s enough to make you want to pull out your hair in frustration!

One way to avoid this problem is to plant varieties of clematis that are known to be easy to grow. The following list (not exhaustive by any means) gives you some suggestions of low-maintenance clematis that really will give good results pretty much every time!

  1. Clematis alpina and its cultivars (‘Columbine’, ‘Francis Rivis’, ‘Jacqueline du Pré’, ‘Ruby’, etc.) zone 3
  2. C. ‘Arabella’ zone 5
  3. C. ‘Betty Corning’ zone 4
  4. C. ‘Countess of Lovelace’ zone 3
Clematis ‘Elsa Spath’ with broad purple flowers.
Clematis ‘Elsa Spath’. Photo: caribbeangardenseed.com
  1. C. ‘Elsa Spath’ zone 3
  2. C. ‘Ernest Markham’ zone 4
  3. C. ‘Gipsy Queen’ zone 4
  4. C. ‘Guernesy Queen’ zone 4
  5. C. ‘Hagley Hybrid’ (‘Pink Chiffon’) zone 3
  6. C. heracleifolia zone 3
  7. C. ‘Huldine’ zone 3
  8. C. integrifolia zone 3
  9. C. ‘Jackmanii’ zone 3
  10. C. ‘Jackmanii Alba’ zone 3
  11. C. ‘Jackmanii Superba’ zone 3
  12. C. ‘Lady Betty Balfour’, zone 3
  13. C. macropetala and its cultivars (‘Bluebird’, ‘Markham Pink’, ‘Rosy O’Grady’, ‘White Swan’, etc.) zone 4
  14. C. ‘Madame Baron-Veillard’ zone 3
  15. C. mandschurica zone 3
  16. C. ‘Marie Boisselot’ zone 3
  17. C. montana and its cultivars zone 7
Clematis 'Nelly Moser' with two-tone pink flowers.
Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’. Photo: ttseedscom
  1. C. ‘Nelly Moser’, zone 3
  2. C. ‘P.B. Truax’, zone 4
  3. C. ‘Perle d’Azur’, zone 3
  4. C. ‘Ramona’ zone 3
  5. C. recta zone 4
  6. C. ‘Rooguchi’ zone 4
  7. C. tangutica and its cultivars and hybrids (‘Bill Mackenzie’, ‘Kigotia’ Golden Tiara®, ‘Helios’, etc.) zone 2
  8. C. texensis and its cultivars zone 4
  9. C. ‘The President’ zone 3
  10. C. ‘Ville de Lyon’ zone 3
  11. C. virginiana zone 2
  12. C. viticella and its cultivars (‘Margot Koster’,‘Polish Spirit’, ‘Purpurea plena elegans’, ‘Royal Velours’, ‘Venosa Violacea’, etc.) zone 4
  13. C. ‘Vyvyan Pennell’ zone 5
  14. C. ‘Warszawska Nike’ (‘Warsaw Nike’) zone 3

Based on an article that originally appeared in this blog on May 25, 2015.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

3 comments on “35 Easy Clematis for Laidback Gardeners

  1. I’m the early spring here in MI some years my clematis has tons of dead wood on the side looking awful. Many years it never fills in enough new plant branches leaved out to cover the unsightly old wood. Can I safely just cut away all those old branches and not kill my whole climate plant?

    • Certainly. Just be careful not to damage living branches. And even if you do cut back a living stem by accident, that won’t kill the plant – it will produce one or more replacement stems -, although it might reduce flowering.

  2. We keep trying. They do not perform well, but the minimal and brief bloom we get is worth the trouble.

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