Plant Collector: Clematis tangutica

The early autumn charm of Clematis tangutica

The early autumn charm of Clematis tangutica

We have been gently enjoying the bright yellow, hooded bell flowers of Clematis tangutica, one of the later flowering varieties for the season. There may be a mere four petals and some purple stamens in the centre and the flower is only 7cm across, but they are very charming. The silky seed heads are a particularly ornamental addition especially as we have both seed heads and flowers on the vine at the same time.

C. tangutica is one of the very best yellow coloured clematis. It hails from north western China into Mongolia which means it is completely cold hardy. It is a clematis type where all that is required is to cut it off about 20cm above the ground some time during winter when it is dormant and leafless. They don’t come much more easy care than that. It means you can grow it scrambling through other plants if you wish, and it shouldn’t smother them. Ours is growing up a trellis.

We have never noticed our plant seeding down but I see it comes with a warning to weed out seedlings so it must have that capacity. This means that it is highly unsuitable for planting near native bush and reserves and would probably no longer be allowed into the country. We don’t need another old man’s beard smothering our native forests. In a garden situation where we have had it for a decade or so, it has not displayed these wayward habits so we are happy to continue giving it garden space so it can charm us from late summer through to autumn.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

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