The genus Clematis belongs to the family Ranunculaceae, which also includes anemones, aquilegias, delphiniums, hellebores, ranunculus, trollius and pulsatillas among others.

The Clematis is my favorite flowering plant, I have a number of them that have survived my lack of a green thumb for over 15 years. I still have the first Clematis I every purchased; it is growing in an oak barrel and still produces an abundant mass of beautiful purple flowers every year.

The majority of clematis are climbers. Exceptions are the species C. heracleifolia, C. integrifolia, C. x aromatica, and C. recta which are herbaceous.

History:

The earliest known species C. vitalba, (Hedge-vine) was described by William Turner in 1548, in The Names of Herbes. John Gerald called it the "Traveler's Joy", in the 16th century. It was know as "Gypsy's bacca" since some people cut and dried the stems to smoke them; and as the "Old Man's Beard" referring to its fluffy seeds.

The first well known species Clematis viticella was introduced to Brittan from Spain about 1569. Soon after the species C. integrifolia, C. cirrhosa, C. flammula and C. recta were discovered in Europe. The first North American species C. crispa was discovered in 1726, followed by C. viorna in 1730, then C. orientalis was introduced from Asia in 1731.

Hybridization was introduced in the second half of the 18th century, with the Chinese species C. florida used to create many large flowered hybrids.

By the 19th century dozens of new species became available, and hybridization became increasingly important.

The earliest known hybrid, C. x hendersonii, was introduced by A. Henderson of the Pineapple Nursery in 1835, it is a cross of C. viticella and C. intergrifolia. After the introduction of this hybrid many nurseries began intensive programs of hybridization. Currently thousands of hybrids and cultivars are available.

Light Exposure:

In most areas Clematis need about 5-6 hours of bright light per day, in hot tropical regions plant in bright shade rather than direct sun.
Planting:
In heavy clay soils dig a hole 24" by 24" for the roots, use only the best topsoil and amend with compost and a small amount of time-release fertilizer. In light or sandy soils make the hole 18" by 18". Plant the rootball 3" to 5" below the surface.
Mulching:
Place a 3" to 4" layer of peat moss or compost over the roots. But keep it 8" away from the stem to avoid rot.
Feeding:
When the Clematis buds are about 2 inches long, begin feeding them with about 2 tablespoons of a good fertilizer per plant every 4-6 weeks. Continue this until the beginning of October.
Watering:
Always water thoroughly and deeply during the hot summer months, cut back when the Clematis goes dormant.
Sources:

Clematis a Care Manual by Mary Toomey

http://biodiversity.uno.edu/delta/angio/www/ranuncul.htm

http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:M07Eih2Nw98C:www.roselandhouse.co.uk/viticella1.htm+Clematis+Henderson+hybrid&hl=en

http://www.suncrestnurseries.com/descript/clematis.html

http://www.homeofclematis.com/

http://dialspace.dial.pipex.com/clematis/

http://www.clematis.hull.ac.uk/

Clem"a*tis (?), n. [NL., fr. Gr. brushwood, also (from its long, lithe branches) clematis. fr. twig, shoot, fr. to break off.] Bot.

A genus of flowering plants, of many species, mostly climbers, having feathery styles, which greatly enlarge in the fruit; -- called also virgin's bower.

 

© Webster 1913.

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