If you love the beauty of climbing, vining clematis but pruning them makes you anxious, you need to try the Clematis viticella group. They are simple to tend and disease resistant, too. In fact they’re so easy the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society named them a Gold Medal Plant for 2017.
Virtues: Varieties in the viticella group are easy clematis thanks to their simple pruning requirements and their resistance to diseases like clematis wilt. They add reliable, colorful flowers to the garden from midsummer to fall.
Common name: Viticella Group clematis
Botanical name:Clematis viticella Group. Varieties in this group include ’Etoile Violette’, ‘Betty Corning’, ‘Little Nell’, ‘Mme. Julia Correvon’ and ‘Polish Spirit’.
Exposure: Full sun.
Season: Midsummer to fall, for flowers.
Flowers: Color depends on variety, but most of these easy clematis bloom in a shade of purple or pink. The flowers of the viticellas are smaller than those in other groups, but they occur in profusion and over a long time period.
Foliage: The leaves are a clean green and made up of 5 to 7 small leaflets. Highly resistant to foliar diseases and clematis wilt.
Habit: These are vines that can reach 9 to 20 feet in length.
Origins: These are selections of the species Clematis viticella, which is native to southern Europe.
How to grow Viticella Group clematis: These easy clematis tolerate any soil provided there is good drainage. They prefer full sun, but like other clematis they like their roots to have some shade.Pruning is simple; just cut all the stems back to about 6 inches off of the ground in early spring. They will shoot up again and bloom in summer (flower buds are made on new growth in the Viticella Group). Provide a support for the vines, be it a trellis, fence, obelisk or even a sturdy tree or shrub. Generally the Viticella varieties are hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 8.
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