IN SEPTEMBER the snow-white stars of Sweet Autumn Clematis bring the sweetness of vanilla to my garden. I consider this C. terniflora a great “concealing” vine, for it can ramble some 30 feet, and effectively hide a chain-link fence, a shabby shed, or some other eyesore on a property. Here it masks the lattice surrounding the pool equipment. It is the easiest of all the clematis vines to grow:
Terniflora prefers to have its feet in the shade and its head in the sun. To keep roots shaded and cool, place a 3-inch layer of shredded woodchips at the plant’s base.
Provide the vine deep weekly soakings during the first spring and summer; thereafter you need not bother. Mine has prospered through the worst of droughts, with neither supplemental water nor food of any kind.
Some gardeners cut back terniflora to a foot or so in early spring. I never do. But then my goal is to achieve rapid and exuberant coverage on a not-so-pretty fence. If you’d like more restrained growth, prune judiciously.
Because it blooms at a time when flowers are scarce, and also because it is so utterly undemanding, I consider the Sweet Autumn Clematis a perfect perennial. Give it a fence, a tree, or a sturdy trellis to climb, and it will reward you each and every September with a charming display of cookie-scented blossoms.
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