Sweet Autumn Clematis
As its name suggests, Sweet Autumn Clematis produces a cloudlike abundance of sweetly fragrant, frothy white flowers in autumn. These masses of white flowers are borne on vigorous twining vines that will cloak a decorative support such as an arbor or ramble along a fence or pergola. A traditional 6’ trellis will not contain this beauty! Being among the most vigorous and robust of the Clematis, we recommend it for those who have struggled growing the daintier forms. It is also the most shade tolerant of the group and will happily grow in conditions ranging from full sun to significant shade. It is a very rapid grower and its twining stems can grow to 20’ in a single season. Its profusion of highly fragrant small white star-like flowers in September bring a freshness to the declining autumn garden.
While pruning is not necessary with Sweet Autumn Clematis, some gardeners choose to cut it back to gain a more refined and less twiggy appearance. Since it blooms on new wood, pruning – if desired- should be performed prior to new growth beginning in spring. If left unpruned in spring its dense vining habit provides shelter and make it a favored nesting spot for birds.
Following the showy display of fall flowers this clematis sets an abundance of fluffy, silvery seeds that float on the winds to disperse. It should be noted that this has become problematic in some southern states as seedlings have naturalized and spread into native ecosystems. While this is rarely a problem in our colder gardening areas (zones 4 and 5), if the gardener has concerns about the potential for re-seeding the plant can be pruned down to 6”-12” prior to setting seed in late fall, rather than in spring.
by Zannah Crowe