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Northern California Regional Reports

Growing Clematis in Northern California

Your complete guide to cultivating this time-tested staple and a few favorite cultivars

'Elsa Spath' clematis rapidly reaches 6 to 10 feet tall, generously covered in huge indigo flowers. Photo: courtesy of donahuesclematis.com

Known as the “queen of climbers,” clematis (Clematis spp., and cvs., Zones 4–11) are long-lived perennial vines of amazing diversity, available in a wide range of heights, growth habits, bloom times, and flower colors and forms. Some are evergreen and some are deciduous. Some are even sweetly scented. They can be small, delicate, and dainty, or they can have showy blooms measuring up to 8 inches across. The forms vary too, from star-shaped singles to frilly doubles, or from dainty clusters of miniature stars to nodding bell-shaped blooms.

'Guernsey Cream' clematis
‘Guernsey Cream’ clematis bears huge buttercream-colored blooms that have a hint of chartreuse. Photo: courtesy of donahuesclematis.com

Clematis can play a multiseason role in any flower garden with their dazzling display of colorful blossoms quickly followed by a textural show of soft, fluffy seed heads. Their value as cut flowers is unsurpassed; they look delightful in a bouquet.

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