SMALL-FLOWERED GROUP (continued)
The Vitalba Group is defined as containing cultivars with at least one parent belong in Section Clematis (which is a specific botanical section different from the general use of the word clematis). This section includes C. ligusticifolia, C. potaninii, C. vitalba and C. virginiana. These are generally large vines with clusters of small white flowers. C. ligusticifolia is most noticeably seen here in the Portland, Oregon area when its silvery seedheads glow in the autumn light high up in trees along the highways leading to the city. The species in this section are often self-seeding.
C. ‘Paul Farges’ (commonly sold under the trade name SUMMER SNOW) is a cross between C. potaninii and C. vitalba. It forms an immense vine that can cover fences, sheds, and large trellises. It blooms throughout the summer and is alleged to be sterile.
Because vines in this section bloom on new wood, cut them back at the end of winter. Also, the vines in this section have fine roots and should be planted at the same depth they are in their pots.
Gardeners in many parts of North America have great success with the clematis in this group. Not only are the vines vigorous and free-flowering; they are also easy to care for and do well in full sun (and many in part-shade).
The cultivars in this group are defined as having at least one parent that is mostly derived from C. viticella.. (Crosses between C. viticella and C. integrifolia are included in the Integrifolia Group.) This is a group of woody climbers that bloom on the current year’s growth and bloom in the summer, sometimes into the autumn. Because they bloom on the current year’s growth, it is usually best to cut them back at the end of the winter and feed them at that time to encourage new growth. (This is not to say that there is a law which states that you must cut them down every year. There are some gardeners with specific applications that do not cut back these cultivars but allow them to continue to grow taller year after year in order to attain flowering high up in a shrub or tree or on a wall. What happens in this scenario is that the vine continues to grow from the last point of growth and blooms on the new wood growing out of the wood of the previous year. Over time, a vine treated in this fashion can reach great heights but the bloom is always up high. We have seen C. viticella ‘Etoile Violette’ blooming at the top of a thirty-foot tree. Most of us, however, like our vines tidy and in scale with our smaller gardens and that is why we cut these vines back.)
Flowers range in color from white to pink, mauve, violet, red, red-purple and purple. The flowers in general range from tightly to broadly bell-shaped, nodding or outward facing. The nodding white flowers of C. ‘Alba Luxurians’ are fairly tightly bell-shaped. Clematis ‘Betty Corning’ has pale lavender bell-shaped flowers with sepals that recurve strongly, periwig style. The out-facing, carmine-rose flowers of C. ‘Carmencita’ are flatter and have a twist to their sepals.
Most cultivars are single but there are a few doubles. C. ‘Purpurea Plena Elegans’ is a classic example of a double flowered member of this group. Its densely congested flowers are like small magenta roses. Some cultivars have flowers with pale sepals that are edged in a darker color. For example, C. ‘Minuet’ has small flowers with sepals that are white, veined in red and edged in red purple.
The bloom time is usually in the summer. A few of the cultivars have amazingly long blooming periods. C. ‘Polish Spirit’ produces flowers non-stop from June to late October here in the Portland area. It is hard to imagine of a tougher, more rewarding vine.
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