Clematis for warm climates?

daisyincrete Z10? 905feet/275 metresMarch 24, 2013

Hello. I happily grew clematis for years in England, but since moving to Crete, I have not found many to be very satisfactory.
I have planted mainly viticellas, as they are said to grow well in warmer climates and they do. The trouble is that with their small flowers and soft colours, I cannot see them. Often I don't even realise that they are flowering, until I am on top of them. I grew a lot of viticellas in England and loved them.
In that soft blue light they stood out well in the garden.
Here in this strong Mediterranean light, they are lost.
Clematis viticella Polish Spirit is only a fraction of the size, compared to the one I grew in England. I haven't pruned it back at all this year, in the hopes that I will be able to see it behind the plants in it's border. Abundance and Kerminsina both flower well if briefly, but are lost in the garden.
The only clematis that makes a show, is Perle d'Azur.
Here it is with rose Colombian Climber.

I know that Clematis Abundance was flowering at the time I took the next photo. It is intertwining with roses The New Dawn and Blush Noisette, but I cannot see it, unless I climb in there and peer closer.

Can anyone recommend a clematis for a warm climate which is very showy?

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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Honestly, I'd grow more Bougainvillea they are extremely showy, extremely long blooming and come in a plethora of colors.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 6:34PM
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plantloverkat zone 9a north Houston(zone 9a)

Thanks for posting the photos, Daisy. Your garden always looks lovely and the photos are a pleasure to see.

I assume that all of your clematis are several years old and already established plants? I am sure that you know that clematis get better with age.

Do you ever pinch your vines when they start to grow in the spring? There were some old threads on Gardenweb a few years ago that talked about doing this. If you pinch the vine just above a pair of leaves, the vine will then grow on either side, essentially making two vines. You can repeat this every couple of feet to get lots more vines producing more flowers overall, but it is only feasible to do if the vines are accessible. Also talked about on this forum several years ago was the idea of cutting the vines back after the first flush of flowers, so that the vines would regrow to produce more flowers. Obviously this would only work on those varieties (hard pruned group 3) that flower on new wood, and the longer your growing season, the more times you could do this in a year. It also assumes that you could provide more water (and possibly fertilizer) after the plants are cut back. Cutting back like this also keeps some of the taller growing varieties more compact.
I am going to throw some ideas out for consideration, but I really have only been growing lots of clematis for a few years. My climate is also hot, but still quite different from yours. Also, all of my yard is partially shaded, so none of my clematis here grow in full all day sun.

My first idea is that perhaps clematis will never grow as luxuriantly in Crete as they do in England, and that maybe you just need to acknowledge and accept that.

Secondly, maybe you need to chose clematis with colors that show up better in your brighter light conditions in Crete. Just going on what you have written above, I would say that since you think that Perle d'Azur is showy there, you might want to look at other lighter colored clematis - Emilia Plater, Prince Charles, Little Nell, Betty Corning, Blue Angel,Tentel, Pirko, Maria Cornelia, Huldine, I Am Lady Q, Jolly Good, Madame Baron Veillard.

You could also look for varieties with larger flowers such as Huldine, Ville de Lyon, Venosa Violacea, Voluceau, Marcelina (often treated as a pruning group 3), Viola, Perrin's Pride. From what I have read, there are some clematis in the large late flowering group (pruning type 3) that do just as well as the viticella hybrids. I have ordered Voluceau this year because I have read that it does well in Texas, and because in his book "Trouble Free Clematis the Viticellas" John Howells says this about it: "This is a neglected beauty that is worthy of more attention. Blooms are large, red and velvety. It keeps coming with series after series of blooms. One of the best of all red clematis."

Maybe you need to consider a different placement in the garden than you used in England. Perhaps you could use obelisks as a support instead of just using other plants as a support - this would "separate" the clematis a little bit and allow the flowers to show up more. Perhaps certain colors would show up better if they were planted closer to where you would be viewing them. Going along with this thought, is also the idea of choosing some smaller growing varieties that could be planted closer to the front of a bed or border instead of in the back. Examples would be Inspiration (this one is one of my longest blooming clematis here), Juuli, Star River, Arabella, Petit Faucon, etc.

Another thought, is choosing bicolor clematis, especially those with more white - Venosa Violacea, Walenburg, Little Nell (a great performer here), Minuet, Tango, Foxtrot, Odoriba, I Am A Little Beauty, I Am Happy, I Am Lady J, I Am Lady Q. I think the white on these flowers would allow the other color to stand out more.

Have you considered any of the texensis hybrids? I know that the flowers are smaller, but they should also do well in a hotter climate. When I lived in Dallas, TX I grew Duchess of Albany in full blazing hot all day sun - it was on a fence by itself. It took probably about 4 years to really get established (I started with a very small plant), but it did finally get large enough to put on a nice show. I remember that it was quite showy in all that sun, although I would have been looking at it from just a couple of feet away from the vines. I added Mienie Belle here in Houston a couple of years ago, and I really like it as well. Mienie Belle's flowers are a lighter color and they open up wider into a starry shape.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 11:07AM
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daisyincrete Z10? 905feet/275 metres

plantloverkat. Thank-you for such a well thought out and considered reply.
I now have a wealth of information to help with next autumn's order. (It is a bit too late for this season.)
But now thanks to you, I can spend the whole summer, thinking about what I can put where.
I think I will take your advice and look at the larger flowered clematis, particularly in group 3.
And of course the texensis group, especially if I can plant them nearer the path.
You have mentioned a few clematis that are new to me as well. Great! I love discovering new plants.
I do have the John Howells book on the viticellas. It is a very good book.
Thanks Daisy

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 9:18AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

You should be able to grow the winter flowering Clematis cirrhosa var. balearica types since they are native the the Med. I saw them in Cyprus blooming at the same time as the little scented Narcissi. Not large flowered but very pretty and coming at an unusual time of year.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 9:37AM
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I live in a hot place, during the mid summer, but have lots of EFH and early LFH blooming in the spring--all with large flowers. Some LFH act more like EFH and thus work just fine for me filling a minor time gap. In many hot places Clematis bloom much earlier and the season is slightly longer, but mid summer is a bad time. I have over a dozen EFH blooming now, with buds on many early LFH. Viticellas tolerate the mid summer heat a little better, but none have large flowers and they are tall, often 10-12-15 feet--blooming in the upper reaches--out of sight, depending upon your pergola or trellis design. I would not get discouraged, but widen your scope a bit and experiment in your new place. Good luck.....

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 2:06PM
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daisyincrete Z10? 905feet/275 metres

flora, I am very fortunate as I am surrounded by mountains, olive groves and the sea shore and Clematis cirrhosa blooms in abundance all over the neighbourhood.
If I walk or drive in any direction during the winter, I see masses of it everywhere.
The trouble is that, it gets very big, even in the harshest of places, and I only have a tiny garden. I did find a seedling of it in my garden and had to (with great reluctance) take it out.
Here it is near my village last winter.

gary, I am surprised. I thought that it was mainly the viticella group that would do well in warm climates. I certainly got the idea, that the early and mid, large, flowered, hybrids would hate it.
I know that the flowering time is very different. My Perle d'Azur flowers in late spring and early summer, stops in mid and late summer, but then starts flowering again, through the autumn.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 4:11PM
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