Clematis pitcheri

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: clematis 
Type: Vine
Family: Ranunculaceae
Native Range: Northern Mexico, southern and central United States
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 10.00 to 13.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to August
Bloom Description: Purple to blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

Best grown in evenly moist, well-draining soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of a wide range of soil types, including rocky and sandy soils, as long as adequate moisture and drainage is provided. The stems are quite brittle and break easily if handled. Place a trellis or other structure near the base of the plant so the vining stems can be supported. The stems can also twine through nearby shrubs for support or simply be allowed to ramble across the ground. This clematis blooms on new growth. Cut back the old stems in winter before the new growth emerges from the rootstock in spring. Hardy in Zones 5-9.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Clematis pitcheri is a herbaceous, perennial vine native to parts of the central and south-central United States and northern Mexico where it is typically found growing on wooded, rocky outcrops, woodland margins, and bluffs, as well as road cuts, fence rows, and other disturbed habitats. The delicate, twining stems can reach around 10-13' long. The highly variable leaves are oppositely arranged along the stems and can be simple or compound. Compound leaves can have 2-8 leaflets and the leaflets can be entire or lobed, and range in shape from ovate to lanceolate. Solitary, nodding, urn-shaped flowers around 1" long bloom from late spring through summer. The showy sepals range in color from purple to blue, are recurved at the tips and can have slightly ruffled margins. The seeds are held in clusters and mature from light green or dark red to dark brown. They have slightly hairy tails that give the seedhead a spider-like appearance. The seedheads can persist into winter. The flowers are mainly visited by bumblebees.

Genus name comes from the Greek word klematis which is an old name applied to climbing plants.

The specific epithet pitcheri honors Dr. Zina Pitcher (1797-1872), a surgeon with the United States Army and botanist of the Great Lakes region.

Problems

Clematis wilt is a potentially fatal fungal disease that can affect any clematis, but large-flowered, hybrid varieties are the most susceptible. Powdery mildew, leaf spots, rust and viruses can also be problematic. Potential insect pests include aphids, vine weevils, slugs/snails, scale and earwigs. Watch for spider mites.

Uses

A non-aggressive vine that can be used with or without support in mixed borders, rock gardens, and wildflower gardens.