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Buy the largest plant possible. Look for strong, undamaged stems. Buy named varieties or cultivars rather then buying by color alone. Buy from a reputable, knowledgeable source, local if possible. This way, you see what you get, and the plants are spared damage from packing and shipping.
Clematis are either large-flowered early spring and summer blooming, or smaller, later blooming varieties. All are available in a wide range of colors, shapes and sizes.
The following suggestions are based on the American Clematis Societyís publication, Growing Clematis in America, by Edith M. Malek.
Choice whites are Henryi, Gillian Blades, Snow Queen, Duchess of Edinburgh (a double), and Guernsey Cream (slightly yellow).
Suggested reds are Edward Markham, Niobe, Ville de Lyon, and Allanah, the last, a bright red with black stamens, originally from New Zealand.
Good blues are General Sikorski, Will Goodwin, Elsa Spaeth, and Belle Nantaise. The last is a light blue beauty with 9-inch diameter blooms and recurved Tepals.
Purples recommended are Jackmanni Superba, Lady Betty Balfour and Daniel Deronda.
Best pinks are Hagley Hybrid, Proteus (a double) and Asao. Pinks do best in a shadier location to minimize fading.
Striped selections include Dr. Ruppel (pink with a rose bar), Kakio or Pink Champagne (a really striking dark pink with a rose bar), Nelly Moser, an old favorite that fades badly in the sun (light pink with a darker pink bar), and Star of India (dark plum red with a dark pink bar).
Smaller-flowered, Late-blooming Clematis
Clematis terniflora (Sweet Autumn) is a vigorous grower with many small white fragrant blooms appearing toward summerís end. Comtesse de Bouchaud is another vigorous grower. It has larger individual pink flowers occurring later in the season.
The old purple favorite, Jackmanni and the newer improved cultivar, Jackmanni Superba are profuse bloomers that tend to bloom late and long.
Among the healthiest, most vigorous and colorful of the clematis are the viticellas. They are virtually free of wilt, as well. Madame Julia Correvon is wine-red with yellow stamens; Betty Corning is viticella which originated in the United States that bears a host of light lavender bell-shaped flowers; Polish Spirit is a very popular purple viticella; and Venosa Violacea has white flowers rimmed in purple
Texensis clematis, as the name implies, are native to Texas. Duchess of Albany has an upright, bright pink tulip-shaped flower that is seen to best advantage when allowed to scramble over low-growing shrubs.
Tangutica is one of the few really yellow clematis. Its lantern-shaped blooms occur in profusion, and are followed in the fall by decorative seed heads.
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