Clematis change flower color from white to purple this year

hcappMay 15, 2011

I have bought Clematis last year, it bloomed white. But this year it blooms purple, which looks awful to me.

Anyway to change it back to white?

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I have NEVER, ever heard of this happening. What kind of clematis was it?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 9:13AM
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It is possible that you just have two different plants in there, I've had that happen. Wait and see if it blooms white later in the season, then you'll know for sure. You can dig it up in the fall, wash the roots and try to separate them.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 11:00PM
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Grow makes a very good point......and one that I had not considered :-) Two different plants would be the only explanation for this phenomenon I can think of. Clematis are not influenced by soil conditions or fertilizers/supplements with regards to bloom color but too much sun or too much shade can alter color slightly. Not change it completely!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 10:31AM
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I don't think it is a matter of having another plant. I have a purple clematis which has bloomed purple for 2 years, but this year is blooming white, so the opposite from what you are saying happened with yours.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 11:37AM
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I've done quite a bit of research on this topic since this thread first appeared - inquiring minds want to know!!

I can find nothing in the literature or with the usual clematis authorities that addresses this possibility.....a radical color change, like from white to purple or purple to white. There are a couple of species that will produce blooms in a range of related colors simultaneously and many LFH's will respond to light conditions during the life of the flower by fading, bleaching or losing color and some flowers will age to a slightly different color naturally, but a complete color change for an entire vine is just not supported or remarked on by any sources.

What are the names of clems in question? That might shed some light on why you are experiencing this highly unusual phenomenon.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 2:56PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I couldn't find anything on it either...

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 11:41AM
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I do not have the original tag from the clematis, but I have pictures from the last 2 years and I know it's not another clematis plant in there. The blooms are new and there are no varying colors so it is a real mystery.The flowers have never been this color in any of their stages before.
I took a picture of the flowers this year and have asked the question to the committee I belong to for the Library Garden Tour including our Master Gardener, so hopefully someone can provide us with an answer.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 4:17PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I went to college for ornamental horticulture, admit I dropped out to work full time, I've worked in horticulture for over twenty years, I'm an OSU Master Gardener myself and have been since 1994 and I know Gardengal has similar credentials....just saying....

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 11:19AM
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Forget that there are participants to this forum that have a great deal of experience growing, selling and even breeding clematis or that have extensive horticultural backgrounds and yet have never encountered a color change such as described, the fact that recognized clematis authorites like Toomey, Evison or or Beuhler and others do not address that this possibility exists doesn't bode well for your Master Gardener coming up with an accurate explanation.

Just saying.......:-)

ps. I have sent an email to Brian Collingwood seeking his opinion on this subject -- will let you know what he has to say.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 5:40PM
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I have heard of the blooms on one vine, or an offshoot of one vine, being the color of one of the parents. It's rare, but it happens. It's not a stable condition, so one can't expect it to happen again. I'm not mentioning this as an explanation to the original poster's problem, I just think it's interesting and adds to the endless fascination of the clematis.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 8:42AM
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I did receive a very prompt response from's what he had to say:

Hi Pam,
No, never thought that was possible, sounds like two plants planted together to me. Sometime when planting small plants, it is easy to plant two with roots and stems mingled together , especially if you grow from cuttings. I've done it myself.
Thats all I can think of right now but if any other info comes to hand please let me know?
best regards

For those of you who may not be familiar with this gentleman, Brian Collingwood is very active in the British Clematis Society, communicates with clematis hybridizers all over the world and has done extensive growing/hybridizing of clematis from seed and his online treatise on growing clematis from seed is pretty much the 'go-to' source.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 9:06AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

The two cuttings would have been planted together at the wholesale/grower level and the person who purchased would not know until flowering....

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 5:06PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

I have been following this thread with interest. Would either or both of you please post any photos you have with the original color bloom and the changed color. It would also be helpful to follow up with this year's blooming cycle.

Sometimes a second very tiny clematis may be potted in the container and may not bloom for a few years as it is getting roots established. If there is a second clematis I expect you should still have blooms from the original clematis as well.

Yesterday I saw a white bloom by 'Will Goodwin' and thought, what, is my clem changing bloom color? As I looked closer I realized that it was a vine from 'Lemon Chiffon' wandering into 'Will Goodwin's' area. Also 'Will Goodwin' blooms much later. Gave me a chuckle.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 12:13AM
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I don't know that much about cleatis, but are they ever grafted? Just wondering if maybe they grafted to a stronger rootstock and they are getting growth from it.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 12:14AM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

That is a good question. Though I had not heard of or seen any grafted clematis I found though Google that few nurseries use grafting anymore for clematis as it is easier for them to take cuttings.

The ones with flower color change might want to ask their supplier if their clematis were grafted.

Here is a link that might be useful: clematis propagation through grafting

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 1:02AM
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eden_in_me(5a Maine)

Could it be possible that a seed fell from the main plant and quietly germinated & grew until it was old enough to flower?
Seedlings are usually different from their parents.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 1:14AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Most Clematis are not big seeders but yes, that is possible.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 12:12PM
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i to have this changing colour going on last year pure white flowers this one pure white and the others have turned to pale lilac I read the post about there being two plants so I have just took a picture to send both flowers in the pic are on the same stem,so defo not two separate plants.
what could cause this the clematis is growing at the back of my herb border it's in flower 28/05/12 all the herbs in close proximity are of light purple colour ,could this affect the colour change...?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 2:24PM
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I recently had a Lincoln Star produce typical bi-color flowers on the first bloom and pure white flowers on the second bloom. The flowers on the second bloom were slightly smaller, but the star shaped petals and anthers were the same. It was planted in dappled sunlight, next to Silver Moon, which showed no first-second bloom changes in color. Anyone have this experience with Lincoln Star or other Nellie Moser types?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 3:47PM
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