Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Plant of the Week: Western Clematis

While leaves are dropping and greenery becomes scarce this time of year, Clematis ligusticifolia keeps on truckin'.  Sure, she's not dripping with lovely white flowers right now.  Ok, so her octopus-like seed heads are getting a liitle rough around the edges.  An evergreen vine refreshes the eyes after a yellow and brown overload.

The clematis vine at Larner Seeds had conquered a small fence and looked like it was ready for world domination.  It's seed heads were worn like medals of courage, interspersed up and down its tendrils.

Soil:  Clematis prefers cool roots, so mulch generously if she'll be in sun.  Otherwise, well-drained to light clay should do nicely.
Sun:  The one pictured at the top sits in mostly-shade.  The one at Larner Seeds had part to full sun.  Go figure.
Plant:  Anytime!  Be careful with transplanting, though.  Vines typically have very sensitive roots that don't like the hustle and bustle of a transplant.  (Bougainvillea are notorious for this kind of behavior, by the way)
Buy it:  Annie's carries it and has a lovely photo of one in full bloom, Oaktown Natives seems to have one in stock, and if you're into the propagation thing, Larner's carries seeds.
Good for:  Greenery when you're blue, gorgeous white flowers, space-age seedheads, a vine for shade and to scramble up trees, a trellis adornment. 


  1. hello christine,

    this is an interesting plant and i have had 2 experiences with it. one at my suburban home where i planted it at the base of a fence. upside--fast grower. downside--invasive and difficult to remove. 'barely being able to contain it' are the kindest words i can use to describe the effort of keeping it in bounds. it is in a bed that gets regular watering during the summer. it was also planted off my deck at Glen Alder. it did not climb but was prostrate. it was smothering all other plants and on the move. i am again thinking of using it on a fence at Glen Alder where it would do little harm but i am still concerned about its invasive tendencies. do you know what insects/birds use it? i would tend to use it again if its benefit out weighted its invasiveness. ls

  2. Oh dear, that sounds like a monster! I would perhaps try to water it less- it might limit its growth. (Once every 2 weeks or so in summer) It's great for a fence, though and it looks so nice year round. I believe insects collect pollen and/or nectar from the blooms, and the seedheads look like something that could make an amazing nest! If I were a bird, I'd want some in my little home.