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Clematis from the Viticella Group

After years of fascination with large-flowered Clematis, recently the small-flowered varieties from the Viticella Group, originating from native to Southern Europe Clematis viticella (Italian Clematis), have finally come up in the world.

Szczepan Marczyński

They thrive both in a hot Mediterranean climate and in the coolness of Northern Europe. Preferring sunny areas they shouldn't be planted in shade or over a north facing wall, but will settle for moderate or even poor soil. These varieties are healthier and less prone to "clematis wilt", the most dangerous disease of large-flowered varieties. The plants are easy to use in a variety of ways. They are excellent for beginning gardeners and those who dream of a beautiful garden but lack time for garden work. They may be of interest to connoisseurs looking for original plants at the same time being suitable for growing in public places. Varieties from this group are vigorous growers (on average they reach a height of 3 m and some even as much as 5 m) and their profuse and long blooming fully makes up for smaller flower stature. Leaves, composed of 5-7 leaflets, are smaller than those of large-flowered varieties but are healthier and often stay green until frost (in particular ‘Polish Spirit’ with deep green foliage).

Clematis viticella and all of its small flowered descendants bloom in summer and autumn on the current year's shoots and should be hard-pruned to within 20-40 cm of the ground in the early spring (February - March). When cut back just above ground level they will also shoot up. The possibility of hard-pruning facilitates cultivation, especially among other plants and in a severe climate. Even when all stems freeze, new shoots will spring up and in summer time abound with flowers.

Flowers are usually the shape of an open, slightly nodding bell measuring between 4 and 13 cm. Clematis viticella has flowers a bluish violet, and numerous cultivars related to it may have blossoms in various shades of white, blue, violet, mauve-pink and red. The flower has most often four tepals, the number varying among some cultivars to 5 or 6 (e.g. ‘Etoile Violette’) or even several dozen, arranged in several layers in double-flowered hybrids (e.g. ‘Purpurea Plena Elegans’).

ph roslina 0209 viticella julia aniol
Clematis 'Błękitny Anioł' and
Clematis 'Mme Julia Correvon'

Clematis from the Viticella Group share the common trait of great adaptability to various garden uses. They can be trained over different kinds of supports to which they can cling with curling petioles (trellises, pillars, poles and arches) forming colorful spots the main parts of the garden. They are excellent for growing over fences, especially wire meshes, which they cover with a thick layer of leaves and flowers. They give a spectacular display when grown up the trees, among roses or small shrubs, adorning their hosts with abundant blossoms in the time of their limited attractiveness or beautifully blending with their foliage. Container growing on balconies and terraces is also a possibility if the container is sufficiently large, a long and strong support is provided and the plant has enough room for its vigorous shoots. They are particularly useful for interior decoration as their cut flowers kept in water stay fresh for a long time.

ph roslina 0209 viticella zastosowanie
Clematis viticella

Some classify to the Viticella group also plants that are only distantly related to clematis viticella (e.g. ‘Błękitny Anioł’, ‘Dominika’, ‘Ville de Lyon’) but it isn't so in the official naming register. It seems worthwhile to mention some of the most widely used cultivars belonging to the species or a group of Viticellas:

  • ‘Alba Luxurians’
  • ‘Betty Corning’
  • ‘Emilia Plater’
  • ‘Etoile Violette’
  • ‘Fay’
  • ‘Krakowiak’ PINK MINK
  • ‘Mazurek’
  • ‘Mme Julia Correvon’
  • ‘Purpurea Plena Elegans’
  • ‘Venosa Violacea’
  • 'Walenburg'

See the description of the Viticella Group in the encyclopaedia.