Gardening Help FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

Which clematis are good for this area?

Clematis vines are excellent choices for St. Louis gardens. If you choose the right varieties, you can have clematis flowers quite steadily from April until fall. In addition to looking beautiful in the garden, clematis flowers and their fascinating seed pods are lovely choices for floral arrangements. Some clematis are noted for their gigantic flowers while others can claim great vigor and yet others have attractive fragrances.

Early blooming clematis, those that require little or no pruning, include cultivated varieties of the species Clematis montana and Clematis macropetala. Among the early blooming cultivars with large white flowers are 'Carnaby' and 'Coventry.' Those with huge lavender and blue flowers include 'Barbara Jackman' and 'Ramona.' A large-flowered, pink, early-blooming clematis is 'Lincoln Star.'

Among the clematis that have a first flush of bloom in May to June with some flowers appearing through the summer are the white 'Mme. Le Coultre' and purple 'The President.' These are among the clematis that call for halfway pruning techniques. Their blooms form on the current year's growth. Another of this type is the sweet-smelling, fall-blooming Clematis paniculata, a marvelous vine for arbors that has a myriad of one-inch, cream-colored flowers in September and October. This clematis has a new botanical name, Clematis terniflora. Russian virgin's bower (Clematis tangutica) is a handsome plant that blooms from July to October with one- to two-inch flowers of buttercup yellow that are lantern-shaped. This variety is also a vigorous grower. The Clematis x jackmanii plants with their deep bluish-purple four-inch flowers are among the most popular of all the clematis varieties. They will develop eight- to ten-foot vines--'Superba' is an excellent cultivar of this hybrid.

Among the later-blooming clematis that can be pruned back hard is vine bower (Clematis viticella) and its hybrids which have purple flowers up to two and a half inches in width. Clematis vitalba, also known as old man's beard, is another late-blooming clematis, one that is suitable for a woodland garden and has small clusters of creamy flowers that appear in August.

These are only a few of the many clematis varieties that St. Louis gardeners should consider growing. Quite often, you will have to compromise and choose one that is of the type you prefer since nurseries are limited in the selections they carry. Clematis are such rewarding ornamentals that you can hardly go wrong with any variety. Choose one or two types and get to know them. Then try some other varieties in a year or two.