Which clematis are the most fragrant?

alicia7b(z7b/8aNC)December 29, 2005

I know that paniculata or sweet autumn (the same? I can't keep these straight) are supposed to be fragrant. Can someone give me the rundown on those similar species, fragrance, invasiveness, etc. Are there other clematis that are fragrant?



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bob414(USDA 9, Sunset 15)

If you go to the Clematis on the web site and search the database for fragrant you will find many fragrant clematis. People on this forum will give you good advice as to which have detectable fragrance.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 10:10AM
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SAC is correctly C. terniflora, although you will still see it marketed under the incorrect label of paniculata, a different species that is considerably more tender.

I find the scent of most clematis very subtle at best, even those generally considered fragrant. I'd include armandii, many of the montanas, flammula, rehderiana and many of the herbaceaous forms like recta, heracleifolia and integrifolia as having a strong, detectable scent, most often described as honey-like or hawthorn scented. Some report fragrance from certain of the large flowered hybrids, but I find scent is primarily in the nose of the beholder and these tend to have marginal fragrance in my experience.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 11:19AM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Following are clematis I have or have had that have some fragrance:

Betty Corning
Helios (removed due to its suckering habit)
Heracleifolia Blue Mood

Of the above, only terniflora, virginiana, and Betty Corning have a fragrance that is easily detectable. I picked Betty Corning blooms last year, brought them into the living room, and could detect their fragrance on entering the room. Others have reported being able to smell Betty Corning's fragrance upon entering their garden on warm, sultry evenings. The other have a definite fragrance but you have to be up close and personal with the flowers to be able to detect them. In my experience, the heracleifolias do not have a very strong fragrance but do smell like hyacinths up close.

There are several others I have that are listed on COTW as being fragrant but either have a very weak nondescript floral fragrance or have not yet developed a scent. In addition, there are some on the list that I haven't even really thought about trying to discern whether they do have a fragrance. Most of the integrifolias for me fall into the nondescript floral fragrance category. I haven't attempted to detect a fragrance on Hendersonii, Juuli, or crispa yet but must remember to next year. My triternata rubromarginata has been an underperformer for me over the last several years. I have another on order for spring so will hopefully finally get a few blooms to see if it has a fragrance. Aromatica, stans, montana Rubens, and Edward Prichard are relatively new ones for me and I haven't been able to detect any fragrance on them--perhaps as the plants mature they will be like my terniflora that didn't really have much of a fragrance until it had been in the ground for 4 or so years.

As you can see, gardengal and I have had differing experiences with some similar clematis. That being said, the best way to figure out if the clematis you are buying is going to have a scent and whether it is one that is going to be pleasant to you would be to buy the plants in person when they are in bloom. That way you have a better idea of what is fragrant and pleasant and what is not.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 11:54AM
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I can't believe I'd forgotten about Armand and Betty Corning. There used to be a beautiful Armand clematis at the entrance to the Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 2:01PM
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keith_treadaway(West Wales - UK)

If you can't get the scent of montana var. wilsonii, then your olfactory glands are dead! Many others have a scent but this one is DEFINITE.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 2:26PM
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Clematis armandii is very fragrant but is not very hardy. The rehderiana and connata are fragrant because you get a lot of flowers and so there is a cloud of perfume.
A special clematis which is strong fragrant is the species henryi with white flowers.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 3:05PM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Keith, love your description of not being able to smell montana var. wilsonii. Too funny! I never have had the experience of smelling a montana var. wilsonii but hope to one day be able to smell that one in someone's garden if not my own!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 4:54PM
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bugtussle_wi(z4 WI)

I have a Recta Purpura that has a wonderful fragrance.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 9:32AM
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chills71(Zone 6b Mi)

Triternata Rubromarginata is supposed to be fragrant, though I have not yet had mine bloom (just put in last summer).

Besides, who can resist a clematis with a ten syllable name?


    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 12:54PM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

That is too funny Chills. I guess that is why I have always loved the Latin name for Tulip Poplars:

Liriodendron tulipifera!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 7:44PM
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flowerfan2(z8/ WA)

My triternata rubramarginata is very fragrant and blooms for me from June till frost. I love it! I also have a SAC that is very fragrant, and a species variety serratifolia which has a nice lemon scented fragrance. My rehderiana has not bloomed yet so I am looking forward to that next summer. It is supposed to have a primrose fragrance.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 9:51PM
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Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore, CA has a very old clematis armandii that is gigantic - it climbs over a nearby arbor and up into an old oak tree. You can smell it down the block! I bought a 1 gallon plant on the spot - this was four years ago. It finally bloomed for the first time last year - and the blooms were not at all fragrant. This year, there are more blooms and they are fairly fragrant. I'm thinking that fragrance has to do with age of the plant.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 1:08PM
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I also would like to see more testimonials about which clematis people have and like, and especially fragrance.

I inherited a couple plants from from a friend in the summer of 2012 which she had for ...... maybe a year? She was getting rid of them since they did nothing for her. They did nothing for me that first year but last year they all bloomed summer 2013. Basically everything I have learned about clematis has happened after I got these plants.

Anyway, I seem to have 2 Sweet Autumn Clematis. In my dry arid clay alkaline soil these 2 plants grew temendously and were totally covered with blooms for ~2 months starting in September. These are most certainly fragrant. It was almost migraine inducing powerful for me. I am not sure I like the scent it produced either. I could smell the plant easily from probably 100' away, and I am not known for my sensitive sniffer. The one in full sun on the south of the house grew a good 10'. The one in a much shadier north corner grew around 4'. Watered primarily with the lawn sprinklers.

They produce a lot of very visually interesting seeds, which apparently disperse and propagate easily making it very "invasive." Apparently its a type III and needs to be drastically pruned winter/spring for good flowering which only occurs on new wood.

I liked the vigorous growth, its general hardiness, and that it was fragrant.

I don't like it being potentially invasive, and wish I loved the fragrance instead of being a bit dubious abut it.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 4:58PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Fair Rosamond has a slight fragrance of violets, unfortunately after many years it just up and died on me last year. Montana wilsonii on the other hand which smothers my lathhouse is a different story, I take my chair and sit awhile, drinking in the fragrance of minty chocolate (well at least to my nose) as it wafts through the air.
Not a great picture but it gives you an idea of what this clemie can do, I do have a better camera now :) Annette

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 11:56AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

...another picture of it flowing over the edge.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 12:00PM
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roseberri, z6(6)

ohhh... that is lovely! I looked Montana wilsonii up and it didn't say what zones it likes, nor when it blooms. Is it for milder climates?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 1:42PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

rosberri, these pictures were taken on June 10 a couple of years ago. I think Montanas' grow in zones 6 to 9. The flowers themselves are not spectacular but in mass and that fragrance, one of my favorites. Here's a picture of the one I lost, 'Fair Rosamond' although not a strong scent but a sweet violet to my nose. I keep looking but haven't found another to replace it yet. Annette

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 2:47PM
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roseberri, z6(6)

Thank you for your answer, those are lovely, and I haven't seen them offered anywhere!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 2:08PM
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The new "sugar-sweet" series are very fragrant...I know of two - lilac smells like orange blossoms and blue smells like gardenia. There may be other colors - I'm not sure.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 12:50PM
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