Choosing a clematis plant isn’t an easy task when there are over three hundred different species and hundreds of hybrids to sift through. There are single blooms available and double blooms as well. Flowers come in purple, pink, yellow, white, and red shades. Plants can be evergreen, vining, or shrub-like and grow to massive sizes or stay smaller and compact.
If you’re searching for a perfect variety of clematis for your yard, here are some of the popular cultivars. All of the types are classified as perennial, and they’ve been split into pruning groups to help differentiate the different types.
Pruning Group 1
Group 1 clematis form flower buds in the fall before going dormant for the winter. Once spring temperatures start to rise, these plants can bloom much earlier than the other types since the buds are already developed. Since they bloom on old wood, they rarely need pruning and tend to grow into larger plants.
All plants in Group 1 only need pruning to remove dead or diseased wood or contain their growth. Make your pruning cuts just after the flowers bloom when you need to prune.
Also known as ‘Blaaval,’ this gorgeous type displays an avalanche of brilliant snow-white blossoms in the spring. Native to New Zealand, the flowers have bright yellow stamens, and the plant’s leathery green leaves are deeply cut, creating a unique look, unlike other types. Vines grow best in part to full sun exposure, reaching twelve to fifteen feet tall when adequately supported.
2. ‘Apple Blossom’
An evergreen type, this climbing vine puts on small pink buds in the fall that are said to look like tiny pink pearls. A profusion of one-and-a-half-inch pale pink to white blooms opens amongst the green foliage in the spring. The blossoms appear somewhat apple-blossom-like, hence the plant’s common name.
3. ‘Pamela Jackman’
Unlike other cultivars, where the blossoms look outwards or up towards the sky, the masses of one-and-a-half-inch deep blue blooms on the Pamela Jackman nod towards the ground. Early in the spring, long narrow flower buds unfurl to show the white inner skirt of the flowers. Fluffy, silverish seedheads follow the blooms and stay on the vines.
Pruning Group 2
Group 2 clematis are an exciting combination of the other two groups. The first flush of blooms open in late May or early June on old wood, with a second bloom occurring on new wood in late summer. With this type, light pruning is best just as growth starts in the spring to keep the plant from outgrowing its space.
4. ‘Bees’ Jubilee’
Bees’ Jubilee boasts six-inch flowers in a creamy mauve-pink with a darker pink bar down the center and creamy yellow stamens. Unlike other cultivars, wavy margins on each flower’s seven to eight petals create a rippled effect. Plants grow to about 6 feet tall, so they are more compact and do best in partial sun to keep colors from fading.
Pure white luminous flowers on the Henryi cultivar are tinted with violet to brown centers, creating a striking contrast. This sizeable deciduous climber grows up to fifteen feet tall and six feet wide, displaying eight-inch flowers, making it a stunning accent piece in any yard. Early summer blossoms are more significant than flowers that open in early fall.
6. ‘Nelly Moser’
One of the most recognized cultivars, Nelly Moser, showcases bicolor blooms of pale lilac petals with stunning pink down the center. These gorgeous blooms are seven to nine inches across and make their presence in both late spring or early summer and then again in early fall. The bright colors may fade in full sun, so give them some light shade.
With stunning deep scarlet red flowers featuring contrasting buttery yellow stamens, this early flowering variety blooms prolifically from early spring through autumn. Introduced in 1975, this cultivar is smaller than some, topping out at about 8 feet tall, so it’s great for containers or a patio accent. The flowers hold their color well throughout the season.
8. ‘The President’
In late spring, this traditional clematis vine unfurls luxurious, deep purple blooms that are up to 7” across with white filaments tinged with pink to deep red. After the first round of blooms fades, the second round of smaller flowers appears in early autumn. The President has won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
9. ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’
The Duchess of Edinburgh brings glorious variety to your yard. In early summer, it displays 4 to 6 inch, double-white blooms on the previous season’s growth; later in the growing season, semi-double flowers open on the vine’s new wood. The tips of the feathery petals tend to recurve and are occasionally tinged with light green. Mature plants reach six to eight feet in height.
One of the newest cultivars on the list, Josephine, was introduced in 1998 at England’s famed Chelsea Flower Show. Double flowers unfurl twice a year in shades of lilac, with the center tepals lighter in color and ruffled. After a couple of weeks, the outer larger petals fade and drop, leaving behind a pompom of ruffled petals.
Pruning Group 3
Group 3 has the greatest number of popular varieties. These plants need to be cut back almost to the ground in the fall, late winter, or early spring before active growth starts, as plants bloom on the season’s new shoots. Since they are cut back yearly, they don’t grow as large as the other groups.
If these plants are not pruned to remove most of the plant, the base develops weak stems and a leggy appearance that is leafless and unattractive. The one drawback to this type of clematis is that new shoots require training every year, but it’s worthwhile.
Arabella is a popular non-vining clematis variety, growing three to five feet tall every year. Star-shaped deep amethyst flowers have six sepals and start out with a reddish tine. The beautiful three to four-inch flowers are set off by creamy white stamens and bloom from early summer to early fall. Once blooms fade, they are followed by plumed seedheads.
12. ‘Mrs. Robert Brydon’
Another non-vining cultivar, Mrs. Robert Bryon, has a bloom time from mid to late summer, showing dainty, half-inch lavender-blue flowers with prominent platinum yellow stamens that radiate in the light. Set off against dark green foliage, flowers are followed by silky seed heads. Plants grow to about five feet tall and die back every winter. They prefer full to partial sun locations.
13. Ville de Lyon
A European classic, Ville de Lyon produces showy, six-inch cherry-red to magenta flowers with creamy golden stamens. The petals have a lovely pearly sheen and may have a darker carmine margin or a contrasting bar of color through the midline to create a textured effect. While blooming, the shades of red and pink fade and change to give the plant extra interest.
14. Hagley Hybrid
A popular compact vining cultivar, the Hagley hybrid bears large chiffon pink flowers highlighted by deep ruby red anthers. The eight-sepaled blooms have an opalescent shine and adorn the seven to ten-foot vines from May through September. These free-flowering vines like partial shade versus full sun and their tidy growth habit make them an excellent container choice.
Bred from disease-resistant lineage, Avant-garde bears smaller double flowers in a deep magenta. The center of the blooms on this flowering hybrid has flamingo pink sepals that look dahlia-like in nature and yellow stamens. Plant this attractive cultivar in a full sun spot, and the vigorous grower will reach an annual height of eight to ten feet.
16. Pink Fantasy
With a more delicate look, the compact Pink Fantasy abundantly produces six-inch pale pink blooms accented with a deeper pink central bar. The elegant sepals surround a center of raspberry pink filaments and anthers. Plants are free-flowering, so they bloom continually from July through September. Growing up to approximately six feet tall, it’s an excellent choice for small spaces or containers.
17. ‘Duchess of Albany’
Bred during the late 1890s, the Duchess of Albany is still a favorite with its deep pink trumpet-shaped clematis flowers. The two to three-inch bell-shaped blooms appear from July to October and are accented with a cherry red bar. This drought-tolerant plant grows ten to twelve feet tall. It looks stunning when grown along an arbor or up trellises.
By far the most popular clematis cultivar, Jackmanii is an old-fashioned favorite with its large royal purple flowers with creamy anthers and magenta ribs. The five to seven-inch velvety blooms appear later in the season, from mid-June through September, and give way to a platinum or rosy colored seedhead. Plants grow to about twelve feet tall and thrive in full sun.
19. ‘Comtesse de Bouchaud’
Closely related to the Jackmanii cultivar, Comtesse de Bouchard blooms from early to late summer, offering medium-sized flowers in pale pink to shades of mauve. Flowers grow to about four and a half inches across, and vines reach about eight feet in height. Plants love full sun making this cultivar a great choice to climb a sunny wall or trellis.
20. ‘Rouge Cardinal’
Velvety flowers in cardinal red are accented with brilliant gold filaments and mahogany anthers on the Rouge Cardinal. This showy vine produces an abundance of four to six-inch showy blooms from June to September and performs well in full sun or part shade. In contrast to many other cultivars, it has blunt sepal tips instead of the more traditional pointed ends.
21. ‘Madame Julia Correvon’
Another cultivar with nodding flowers, the claret red tepals on Madame Julia Correvan twist backward to thrust the petals apart, giving the plant a gapped appearance. The sweetly scented blossoms are accentuated with golden yellow stamens and begin blooming in late spring. After a month of profuse blossoms, flowers appear sporadically until the first autumn frost.