Darrell Blackwelder: Sweet autumn clematis provides pleasant sight and smell

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 2, 2023

You may see a rather ornate vine coated in beautiful flowers mingling in trees and shrubs as you drive across Rowan County. It can be found growing in almost any location along roadways and vacant areas. The vine is sweet autumn clematis (Clematis paniculate or Clematis maximonowicziana). It is a vigorous vine, native to New Zealand, that is related to the cultivated spring-blooming clematis.

The vine is often incorporated into landscapes providing an added spark of brilliant white color and an unusually sweet gardenia-like scent to our fading late summer bedding plants. Unlike the spring-blooming clematis, the sweet autumn vine can be quite aggressive with twisting petioles and twining stems that quickly spreading during the summer months.

You’ll never have to worry about replanting this fast-growing vine as many complain is it can be somewhat invasiveThere are cultivars of the native species available which are more compact and less aggressive which are perfect additions in some landscape settings. The early fall bloomer needs at least four hours of sunlight to achieve maximum blooms. The vine can be pruned back almost to the ground in the early spring successfully recovering to bloom again in early fall. Go to https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/all/clematis-paniculata/ for more detailed information.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.