Virtues: This native clematis blooms over a long period—all summer when happy—with small but pretty drooping flowers. Its autumn seed heads are very ornamental, with a nice golden color and feathery texture. A quick grower but not invasive or smothering. Fool-proof pruning.
Common name: Leatherflower, vasevine
Botanical name: Clematis viorna
Flower: Red or purple down-hanging bell-shaped flower. The thick and fleshy (“leathery”) sepals curve back upward to reveal a pale yellow interior. Blooms from early summer into autumn. Note—flower color and shape is variable, from vivid to pale shades of red or purple and from tightly vase shaped to a looser bell. Decorative, feathery seed heads follow the flowers in autumn.
Foliage: Green, oval, deciduous.
Habit: Quick-growing deciduous vine to 12 feet. A rather thin vine, it is not the best choice for a screen but looks good scrambling through a sturdy, dense shrub or trained along the top of a fence.
Season: Summer, for flowers.
Origin: Native to wooded stream banks and thickets from Pennsylvania eastward to Missouri and southward to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas. Read about other native clematis.
Cultivation: Grow in part sun, in moist, fertile soil. Prune to the ground in late winter. Flowers form on new growth. USDA Zones 4–9.
Image by Al Parrish. Copyright F+W Media.