The series Clematis armandii are the evergreen clematis. This variety of vine is different than most clematis, which like their heads in sun and roots in shade. Armandii can grow quite well in almost full shade. The plant doesn't lose its leaves in winter like other clematis and produces spiky white fragrant flowers with a light vanilla scent. Clematis cirrhosa is another type of evergreen, but it is very temperamental.
The many varieties and cultivars of clematis which are mostly deciduous perennial vines. Clematis can grow quite large and are excellent coverage for pergolas, trellises, fences or even over hedges. The vines bear bright coloured flowers that bloom in spring or summer, with a few blooming in early fall. Some produce fluffy seed heads after the flowers are finished, which add interest to the plant. There are few evergreen clematis, which keep their lance-shaped leaves year-round.
Clematis armandii can get up to 30 feet in length. It is one of the first clematis to bloom, often in late February, but dependent upon the climate. The flowers produce a sweet fragrance as they are dying, which makes it worthwhile leaving the spent blooms. Armandii blooms have five petals and are arranged in groups on the vine. Flowers can span 2.5 inches. This vine is hardy in USDA zones 8 to 10. Some varieties are Snowdrift and the pink cultivar Apple Blossom.
Another evergreen clematis is cirrhosa or Spanish Traveler's Joy. It can grow up to 13 feet long with a 6-foot spread. The flowers are cream coloured with red speckles and are also aromatic. Unlike armandii, cirrhosa requires a full sun position in well-drained soil. The evergreen foliage is different, too, arranged in lobed groups of cup-shaped leaves. This is one of the earliest bloomers and can sometimes be found flowering in January if there is adequate sunshine. The blooming can be fickle, however, and flowers produced may be spotty on the vine.
Half Hardy Clematis
Some clematis remain evergreen when they are grown in warm and temperate climates but drop their leaves at the first sign of freezing. Clematis alpina is a fast-growing vine that will only get 7 to 8 feet long. It blooms in early spring but may produce sporadic flowers later in summer. Clematis alpina is a blue flowering vine that requires shelter from winds and cold. Clematis macropetala is also a blue flowering variety that will hold its leaves in warm conditions year-round. It has double petals, as the name indicates.
- Gardening Info Zone: Clematis Plants: Clematis Varieties; Dave Pinkney; Aug. 26, 2010
- Royal Horticultural Society: Clematis Cirrhosa
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Evergreen Clematis; Karen Russ; 2009
- Floridata: Clematis Armandii; Jack Scheper; March 27, 1999
- Gardening Guides: Clematis Armandii: Good Focal Point in Your Flower Garden