When I moved down to Vancouver to go to Horticulture school I had only ever seen one type of Clematis which grew in the Prince George area. It is the rare Western Blue Clematis (Clematis occidentalis) which is not at all vigorous or showy having small blue bells which are lost in the dense forest edges. Down in the warm Vancouver area there of course are many types with large flowers that can bloom from early spring into late summer. I was surprised that on my list of plants to learn was an evergreen species which naturally is Clematis Armandii commonly known as the Evergreen Clematis or more appropriately (I think) Armand’s Clematis.
Clematis armandii is very common in this area, I have found it in countless yards and municipal sites used in a variety of ways. Many broadleaved evergreens here took a real beating with this winters unusual cold which included a prolonged damaging dry northern wind. The Armand Clematis (zone8-10) that I have come across have not been touched.
Armand’s Clematis originates in almost the same area as Rhododendron strillgilosum, the plant I featured last week. It’s range is from south Yunnan, traveling west Guizhou and north into Hubie and Sichuan China. It is seen growing in the scrub, along riverbanks and up through trees where it blooms in April and May. Although it is named in honor of the French missionary Per’e David- Jean Pierre Armand David(1826-1900) the plant was introduced into cultivation by Ernest ‘Chinese’ Wilson around 1900. It was an immediate hit and earned a FCC( First Class Certificate) in 1914 from the Royal Horticulture Society.
Clematis armandii is a plant which is especially attractive in the spring, It’s fresh new growth is tinged with wine tones and the leaves are glossy and crisp in the sun. The flower buds are an delicate cream which burst forth into an incredible show. Often on a sunny spring day these plants are absolutely covered in flowers and the bees are happily buzzing about harvesting the honey.
All Clematis have gained an undeserved reputation for being difficult plants to grow and this is not true at all. They do need to be properly sited and have enough water during their growing season. They need both sun and shade; at least 6 hours of full sun per day to grow their best and a cool shaded location to sink their roots in. A large hole 2ft(60cm) deep by 3ft(1m) across to be filled with lots of compost and organic material will get your plant of to an extremely fine start.
If happy Clematis armandii will grow to be large vines up to 20 ft(5m) in spread and height. Staking to a strong trellis or other form of support is a must as these are extremely vigorous and eventually heavy plants do to their think leaves and dense growth.
It is advisable to give Clematis armandii an annual mulching of well rotted manure or compost each spring. If they get to big or need to be restrained they can be pruned after blooming. They do not like having wet roots in the winter it it might rot off, this caused by a fungi which attacks Clematis. Signs of this are seen in wilting of the new growth. Unfortunately there is no known cure for this. Carefully discard the plant in the garbage and do not replant with another clematis in the same site if this happens.
Links that Weaves This Together:
Paghat’s experience with Clematis armandii http://www.paghat.com/evergreenclematis.html
How to grow Clematis, a well laid out article: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1247.html
Per’e David- Jean Pierre Armand David: another plant explorer who we honor for what he brought to horticulture.
What Treasure Will I Bring You Next Week? I Have go Out and Hunt Like the Plant Explorers!