Clematis blossoms can make all the difference to your garden hanging from trellises, pergolas, and draping walls or fences! These vines’ large and showy flowers are so eye-catching that they can spark a light in any yard or green space.
Some even reach impressive sizes, up to 8 inches across (20 cm)! Others look so exotic that you will think you live in a tropical forest with vines all around you…
There are really lots of clematis types and varieties, between natural species, hybrids, and cultivars, in colors from white to purple, with violet, magenta, and blue, but even more unusual ones, in yellow or red! With four, six, or eight petals, and different shapes, you may need some help picking the right vine for you – also because the leaves can vary a lot in shape, even on the same plant!
We usually divide clematis varieties into three groups for gardening convenience based on their blooming season, growth habits, and pruning requirements. Group 1 includes early or spring-flowering clematis; Group 2 consists of reblooming varieties; and Group 3 comprises late-flowering clematis that blooms in late summer into fall.
So, we picked the best varieties from each group and with each color so that you can have stunning clematis in bloom all the way from late spring to early fall in your garden- and they are all low maintenance!
Types of Clematis And How to Identify Yours
With 300 natural species and so many more hybrids and cultivars that we cannot even count them, it is useful to divide clematis varieties into groups. There are many ways of categorizing this flowering vine, according to the size of the flower, the shape, and other ways. However, the most useful is by flowering time.
This is handy because it helps you plant your garden blooms, so you know when the clematis variety will contribute with its brightly colored flowers.
Let’s try to understand these three groups of clematis a bit better, before we move to each category and variety in turn.
The bloom time of your clematis also tells you when to prune it: when the blossom is spent. But early blooming varieties may not even need any pruning at all…
Clematis Variety Groups and Pruning
This way of grouping clematis varieties in the first, second, and third groups also has another advantage and use in gardening terms: vines of each group need to be pruned differently in order to have the best possible blossoms. And we will see how when we look at each category in turn.
So, now you know how clematis varieties are grouped, we can start with early-blooming vines.
Group 1: early blooming clematis varieties
Early blooming clematis varieties will brighten up your garden, climbing high up onto trellises, fences, and pergolas and producing eye-catching flowers early in the season. Do not prune the vines of this group; only clean them from dead and dry parts. The new buds will come on old wood next year.
Species, hybrids, and cultivars in the early blooming clematis usually have smaller, less showy blossoms than those in the others. While the flowering season is fairly short, they are great to start early with exotic-looking blooms, and you will also find the most unusual varieties!
1: ‘Jan Lindmark’ Atragene Clematis (Clematis macropetala ‘Jan Lindmark’)
‘Jan Lindmark’ is an early-blooming clematis variety that will blossom together with daffodils and tulips, starting in mid-spring and stopping as soon as summer comes. It has a very wild but exotic look…
In fact, it has long and stretching petals that project forward and arch, with a slight spider look. The nodding heads are double, and they have a bright purple mauve color and an interesting, skin-like texture.
At the center, they will pale to almost white, giving you a light-infused core. Reaching about 3 inches across (7.5 cm), they are not very large for Clematis, but they make up in personality and vibrancy.
When they wilt, they give way to fluffy seedheads, which are quite pretty as well. The deciduous leaves are bright to mid green and unusually regular; they are divided into three elliptical leaflets with serrated edges, and the foliage is quite dense indeed.
This vine can also grow as ground cover, as it can be a crawler as well as a climber, so, ‘Jan Lindmark’ atragene clematis may not be the most exotic of all the varieties of this genus, but it is certainly one of the most adaptable.
2: ‘Pamela Jackman’ Atragene Clematis (Clematis alpina ‘Pamela Jackman’)
‘Pamela Jackman’ is an early flowering variety of clematis with a twist… Maybe you will not notice it at first, as you will be fascinated by how the long and pointed buds open in spring to reveal deep violet-blue petals that stretch until they form lovely nodding cups that dance in the breeze…
Wait a few more days, and they will unfurl until they become flat and reflexed!
At this stage, you will see a white inner circle that this vine has kept hidden from you so far. Each flower head is about 3 inches across (7.5 cm). The fluffy seedheads that follow are silver in color, very elegant, and decorative.
This climber, too, has a very regular foliage shape: bright green and with three pointed leaflets, serrated and fresh looking, they will definitely soften pergolas or walls… It also won the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
“And the twist,” you may ask. ‘Pamela Jackman’ is an early flowering clematis variety that sometimes puts in a little show in late summer as well. That would be a welcome surprise in any garden…
3: ‘Apple Blossom’ Evergreen Clematis (Clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’)
This variety of early blooming clematis is aptly named indeed: ‘Apple Blossom.’ This is not just because it flowers together with these fruit trees, but for many other reasons. In fact, it is one of the most generous cultivars you can ever find.
The whole vine literally covers in blooms for about two months… And they have a lovely color and shape. Very soft looking, the four elliptical petals have a very pale rose pink shade, almost white, and a tiny bright yellow center.
They are small, only 2 inches across (5.0 cm), but they come in such numbers that they will give you a spring spectacle to take your breath away! The foliage, too, has lots of decorative value…
The leathery and glossy leaves emerge in warm tonality of bronze before turning dark green, and they will keep you company throughout the year.
Winner of the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society, ‘Apple Blossom’ evergreen clematis will give you all year-round interest with its romantic blooms and refreshing leaves, providing shade on your pergolas through the seasons.
4: ‘Pixie’ Evergreen Clematis (Clematis x cartmanii ‘Pixie’)
We come to one of the most unusual varieties of clematis, a hybrid called ‘Pixie.’ Rather than evergreen, you could call it “all green,” in fact! The small flowers, about 2 inches across (5.0 cm), will appear in late spring and keep giving you joy till the beginning of summer, but they look strange…
They have six fresh-looking, small and balanced petals of an amazing lime green color! This is quite rare… Having said this, they come on bronze stems, which may be the only diversion from the color scheme of this vine.
And you will also notice another special touch: they are very fragrant indeed! The leaves are elegant, finely divided, and deep green and they will also stay on in winter. It is a cross between Clematis petrei ‘Princess’ and Clematismarmoraria, both originating from New Zealand.
What’s more, ‘Pixies’ evergreen clematis has another important trait; it is one of the smallest varieties you can find, which makes it perfect for terraces and tiny gardens. It can be a climber and a crawler as well, but it does not like windy positions.
5: ‘Avalanche’ Evergreen Clematis (Clematis x cartmanii ‘Avalance’)
‘Avalanche’ is hard to match for a candid-looking early blooming clematis variety. The six petals of its flower head will open in early and continue to mid-spring, opening flat and displaying their six petals to you in all their snowy whiteness!
Just the center has a small lime to golden yellow tonality, which is due to the reproductive organs. The blossoms are actually very small, only about 1.5 inches across (4.0 cm), but very profuse indeed!
It is a very bright and luminous presence in any garden and a good companion for trees and roses. The name, too, suggests you a very important asset of this vine: it literally smothers the foliage with its floral display!
In a way, it’s a pity because the glossy, green, and deeply cut leaves are also very decorative. Never mind, you will enjoy them in summer, fall, and all through winter!
Perfect for a wedding party-looking garden but also to bring the light of the new season into your green space, ‘Avalanche’ can grow on trellises, pergolas, and walls, but it can also spread on the soil, and you can have it as ground cover!
6: ‘Stand by Me’ Clematis (Clematis integrifolia x fremontii ‘Stand by Me’)
As we said, the most unusual varieties of clematis are in the first group, the early blooming ones and ‘Stand by Me’ is one of them! In fact, we think of these plants as vines, but ‘Stand by Me’ is not!
It does not vine, in fact… Instead, it forms compact clumps bushy in appearance, of leathery, deep green leaves broad and pointed, with dark purple tonalities on the under page. Short and vigorous, it produces stems that hover above the foliage where the buds appear in mid spring.
There, you will see bell shaped, rich and intense blue flowers nodding in late spring, usually early summer, and sometimes even a bit later. The petals will curl up elegantly as they blossom.
The whole plant will die off late in fall, but it will come back next year. While it is not technically classed as a first group clematis, you can treat it as one and it will bloom as one.
While ‘Stand by Me’ is not a vining clematis, it will benefit from some support, like a cage. Also make sure to keep its roots fresh, and to give it a but of afternoon shade in warm regions.
7: ‘Freda’ Clematis (Clematis montana ‘Freda’)
‘Freda’ is a romantic looking variety of early flowering clematis of the first group; it has four broad, sometimes gently curving petals, with a vibrant and bright cherry pink color, which pales to white in a stripe in the middle.
They will lead you to the very center of the blossom, where you will notice a tuft of golden yellow pistils… The blooms are not big, only about 2 inches across (5.0 cm), but they will come in great numbers in this vine, giving you a great overall effect.
And this spectacle is heightened by the unusual coloring of its foliage, which is dark green with lots of purple in it. The dark cut leaves appear is sets of three leaflets, and they provide excellent contrast for the floral display. It is a winner of the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Fast growing and vigorous, ‘Freda’ clematis is good to climb up walls over a short time, but equally suitable for trellises, pergolas or fences, and you can let it spread horizontally as ground cover as well.
8: Fern Leaved Clematis (Clematis cirrhosa var. balearica)
Here is a wonderful natural species of clematis from the Mediterranean region and North Africa of the second group that will blow you away… Fern leaved clematis is actually unusual, because it will start blooming before all others: in mid or late winter, and it will continue into early spring…
The flowers are cup shaped, about 2.4 inches across (or 6.0 cm), and very fragrant. The four petals have gently dented, frilled edges and they will enchant you with their cream color dotted with purple freckles, as well as with their rough paper texture!
The lome green pistils end in white anthers, as the stamen does with the stigma. On the outside, or back of the tepals, you will see some blushes of pale purplish dust, while the stems are burgundy.
The leaves are divided into segments and they look a bit like fronds, bright green, glossy but also warming up to dark and, again, deep plum tonalities in winter, as this is an evergreen climber.
One of the most elegant clematis you can ever grow, fern leaved clematis is easy to grow and ideal for traditional or exotic gardens, but it does need a fairly warm climate to thrive.
Group 2: repeat blooming clematis varieties
The second group of clematis varieties will start blooming either in late spring or summer, and they will do it again, at least once, or into the months of fall. It is a much larger category than the spring flowering ones, with much bigger, more showy blossoms too. It contains some of the world’s favorite cultivars and hybrids withprofessional gardeners and amateurs alike.
With vines of this group, you should prune in winter or early spring, before the new shoots start, but not too heavily. They will in fact start blossoming on old wood and then continue on new stems…
Their long flowering season and big flowers are their main asset for walls, trellises, harbors, pergolas, gates and over fences.
9: ‘Warszawska Nike’ Clematis (Clematis ‘Warszawska Nike’)
‘Warszawska Nike’ is a rally luxurious and spectacular cultivar of second group, reblooming clematis from Poland! In fact, it has won the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society… Maybe because its flowers reach an incredible 7 inches across, or 18 cm?
Or maybe because they have a perfectly tuned, vibrant and very strong royal purple color? The six petals are broad and rounded, like paddles in a way, with a gap between them… But in the center, you will see like a snow flake of pure white, which will turn into fluffy seedheads once the floral display is over…
And it is quite generous with its blossoms, that will come repeatedly from as early as late spring, or early summer (depending on the climate) and into fall. The bright green, elliptical and smooth edged leaves that surround them will give you an excellent backdrop as well.
‘Warszawska Nike’ clematis is well behaved, and it will not grow too fast and too big; this makes it an excellent vine to climb up walls and pergolas in urban and suburban gardens.
10: ‘Viva Polonia’ Clematis (Clematis‘Viva Polonia’)
We continue with the Polish theme, with a wonderful cultivar named ‘Viva Polonia’… It will start fairly early on with its showy flowers, un late spring, and it will continue till mid summer, with repeated blooms.
The star shaped blossoms are quote large, about 4 inches across, or 10 cm, with pointed but fairly broad petals, and they come in great numbers on the vine.
The color they display is a bright and deep magenta, very strong and vibrant indeed, but in the middle of each of the 6 tepals has a large white stripe in the middle that provides a luminous contrast and leads your eye towards the center.
There you will find the filaments of the reproductive organs, in deep purple and cream shades! Lush and bright green foliage completes the effect, also when the fluffy seedheads appear.
Introduced by Polish breeder SzczepanMarczynski, ‘Viva Polonia’ has an Italian name and an international appeal, and in fact it has become one of the world’s most popular clematis varieties of the second group, also thanks to the modest size of the vine.
11: ‘Guernsey Cream’ Clematis (Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’)
Bring pure light to your trellis, pergola or wall with a luminous cultivar of clematis of the second group, from late spring to fall: ‘Guernsey Cream’! Introduced by famous breeder Raymond Evison in his Guernsey nursery, UK, this variety offers you pure snow white all over the blossoms.
The large petals form a candid star that reaches 6 inches across (15 cm), and they come in abundance all through the season. The only exception to the color code is is the dense tuft of pistils you see in the middle, which has a blush of bright, pale to chartreuse yellow in it.
As the flowers mature, they will take on a cream tonality, which softens them but does not make them less attractive. The floral displays of this climber will come in three waves, and in the first (late spring and early summer), they will literally cover the whole plant, hiding the lush, green and decorative foliage.
For a white reblooming clematis, ‘Guernsey Cream’ is arguably the best! It is hard to find a variety with bigger, whiter and more generous blooms than this!
12: ‘Niobe’ Clematis (Clematis ‘Niobe’)
‘Niobe’ must be one of the most luxurious and expensive looking varieties of vining clematis of the second group. The reason is simple: its large blossoms. With 6 or even 8 petals each, and reaching 6 inches across (15 cm), they are quite big and showy.
But what makes them exceptional is the strong, vibrant and deep ruby red color that the pointed but broad tepals display, all the way from late spring to early fall, in three waves… But what really makes it stand out from other cultivars, hybrids and species is the velvet like texture of the flowers…
The filaments in the center fade seamlessly from violet purple to white with shades of pale cream yellow, offering you a spark of light. The lush and mid or bright green foliage that covers the vine offers the best possible backdrop for this lustrous spectacle. No wonder it has won the famous Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.
‘Niobe’ is the perfect climber to add a touch of class and sumptuousness to your pergola or trellis, in any type of informal garden, large or small, traditional, oriental or even exotic., even incold climates!
13: ‘Kathleen Dunford’ Clematis (Clematis ‘Kathleen Dunford’)
Elegant and very showy at the same time, ‘Kathleen Dunford’ reblooming clematis hist the perfect balance! The 6 slender and pointed petals that you will see form a star shape, and you can’t miss them, because the flowers can reach an eye watering 8 inches across (20 cm)!
But despite being massive, the blooms are also very gentle indeed. This is due to the pastel shades of violet, lavender, mauve and blue that they display, and the flour like impression you get if you look at them at close range.
They really look like an artist has softly painted them in fine drawing paper with a crayon… And you will enjoy all this from late spring to early fall, with the first wave being the most spectacular.
The long and narrow, pointed and almost lanceolate leaflets that come in groups of three quite large, mid green but painted with a thin purplish line on the smooth margins finally complete the effect of the most sophisticated looking clematis of them all!
‘Kathleen Dunford’ is the clematis variety if you want a spiritual, showy but non intrusive climber to grace your pergola, wall, trellis or gate, and lift your garden to a heavenly sphere.
14: ‘Multi Blue’ Clematis (Clematis ‘Multi Blue’)
The second group of clematis includes some of the best and most spectacular double varieties ever, like ‘Multi Blue’. As its name suggests, its many petals have a deep and vibrant blue shade, with hints of violets on the back tepals, which are larger, and they frame the middle ones, which form a flattened dome.
Reblooming from late spring into early fall, this vine will give you large flowers, about 4 to 6 inches across (10 to 15 cm) and in quite large numbers. This will usually happen in two main waves, one starting in May, and one in August, both lasting about tow months each. But you can see the odd head here and there even during the mid season break.
‘Multi Blue’ clematis also has a compact habit, being fairly short and wide, which makes it ideal for modest spaces, including on terraces, un containers and it looks fantastic if you grow it next to shrubs and roses.
15: ‘Pink Champagne’ Clematis (Clematis ‘Pink Champagne’)
We close our selection of second group reblooming clematis with an outstanding cultivar: ‘Pink Champagne’! In fact, its massive flowers will range between 6 and an overwhelming 8 inches across (15 to 20 cm)! And they are a real spectacle!
What you don’t get with this variety is regularity in color. But if you like surprises, you will love it. This is because its blooms can be rose pink or rose purple, but always bright in shade and always with a lighter stripe in the middle of the overlapping petals, which gives you a multi pointed start effect.
The exact tonality depends on two factors: soil quality and light conditions. The lush and semi glossy, almost hear shaped and bright green foliage that grows on the vine completes the show perfectly well.
‘Pink Champagne’ too has a compact habit, despite its massive flowers; for this reason, you can enjoy it even in small gardens and on balconies, in containers and on patios.
Group 3: late blooming clematis varieties
The third group of clematis will blossom in late summer or early fall, so, you will need to wait a bit to see them in their full beauty. But they do add beautiful colors at the end of the season, including an unusual one for this genus: yellow!
What you need to know is that you need to prune it severely in early spring. Follow new shots down to where you find a healthy bud close to the base and cut! In fact the buds will appear on new wood, so, the more you trim it, the more generous the blossom will be.
16: ‘Perle d’Azur’ Clematis (Clematis ‘Perle d’Azur’)
We can start our shortlist of the best clematis varieties in the third group with a very special cultivar: ‘Perle d’Azur’. Winner of the most important prize in the gardening world, the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society, this vine will give you flowers that display very broad petals, so wide in fact that they form a flat and continuous blossom, with short points sticking out.
Each head is about 4 inches wide, and it has a sky to pastel violet color, very soothing indeed, with purplish stripes that lead you to the center of the blossom.
It will also start a bit earlier than other climbers of the late group, as you can see the first blooms in mid summer… Its long lasting floral show is decorated by fairly open foliage, with mid green and hear shaped leaves.
While you can grow ‘Perle d’Azur’ in for the same uses of other large varieties, but for a later effect, you can also have it in containers, as long as you keep its roots fresh and sheltered from heat and sunlight.
17: ‘Ernest Markham’ Clematis (Clematis ‘Ernest Markham’)
Here is a generous late flowering clematis variety with a very profound personality: ‘Ernest Markham’, another winner of the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society!
Noted for its massive late floral displays, this cultivar literally fills with lots of showy blossoms by late summer, though it can start a bit before.
The blooms will form large patches of very deep magenta, each with 6 tongue shaped petals (tepals) with a delicate tip and a tuft of whitish filaments in the center. But it does offer your trellis, wall or fence another decorative trait…
The texture of the blossoms is very velvety, soft looking and sumptuous. Each head is about 4 to 6 inches across (10 to 15 cm), and balanced with the dense mid green pointed leaves.
Yet another easy to grow variety, ‘Ernest Markham’ appreciates afternoon shade if you live in a warm country, and don’t forget to put stones at its base to keep its roots fresh.
18: ‘Fond Memories’ Clematis (Clematis ‘Fond Memories’)
Aptly named, ‘Fond Memories’ is a late blooming clematis variety for soft feelings. The pointed and elliptical tepals of this clematis have a very soft shade of cream white with a slightly purplish undertone.
This is picked up at the very margins of the smooth petals, where you will see a very thin magenta purple line. Very luminous and at the same time sophisticated, with a fine paper like texture, the blossoms are about 7 inches across and the undersides have a very intense rosy shade.
The tonality of the edges is then picked up by the upright filaments in the center. The smooth, semi glossy foliage is dense and made up of irregular leaves: some are heart shaped, some almost lanceolate, and others even lobed, adding an interesting backdrop for the long floral display, which can start as early as June.
‘Fond Memories’ is a semi evergreen variety as well, so, in warm climates you will enjoy the foliage on your pergola, trellis or wall even in winter. And this is on top of the prolific and elegant blooms!
19: ‘Golden Harvest’ Clematis (Clematis orientalis ‘Golden Harvest’)
Clematis varieties are famous for their palette of purples, blues, magentas and whites, but ‘Golden Harvest’ (a.k.a., ‘Golden Tiara’) is a notable and rare exception. Why? It has bright golden yellow flowers, as you may have guessed!
But let’s start from the beginning… The flower buds are actually very attractive themselves, as they look like lime colored Chinese lanterns nodding on the vine. The four tepals, which are fairly glossy, will start opening, first giving you a bell shaped head, and they will reveal their long and thick purplish pistils in the middle.
Look closely and you will see a crinkled surface, like the wrinkled skin of an old person. Then, the petals will open wide and finally turn their tips backward. What’s more, this vine will produce the white, fluffy seedheads while still in bloom, giving you an interesting contrast. The blooms are small (up to 3.2 inches across, or 8.0 cm), as are the leaves, which are also deeply cut and bright green.
‘Golden Harvest’ is one of the best late blooming varieties for a naturalistic style, and also excellent to grow through shrubs for a sunny mid to end of season floral display.
20: ‘Rouge Cardinal’ Clematis (Clematis ‘Rouge Cardinal’)
We close our journey into clematis varieties with yet another late blooming vine with an unusual and unusual color for this genus: ‘Rouge Cardinal’. Deep ruby with crimson reflexes, the flowers really stand out as packed with energy, life and strong passion!
The 6 broad tepals also have a velvet like surface, with gentle creases on them, giving you a very luxurious and intense experience. A tuft of cream colored stamens appears at the very center, while the pointed petals gently curve backwards at the tips.
Each blossom is also large, 4 to 16 inches across, or 10 to 15 cm, and they will start opening in early or mid summer, according to the climate, and continue into fall, giving you a very long season. The foliage is mid green dense and with an emerald undertone, and with three lobes – quite extraordinary!
A very unusual variety of late blooming clematis, ‘Rouge Cardinal’ is a real show stopper to use as an eye catching vine rich in feelings and intensity un a place where everybody can admire it in your garden.
Grow clematis varieties from with blooms from spring to fall!
So, for your pergolas, walls trellises, fences or even to grow through shrubs, if you pick and choose from the twenty varieties in the three groups you have just met, you can literally have their large and showy blossoms, even in unusual colors, all the way from late spring to early fall. Just imagine what a difference it will make for your garden!
Amber Noyes was born and raised in a suburban California town, San Mateo. She holds a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of California as well as a BS in Biology from the University of San Francisco. With experience working on an organic farm, water conservation research, farmers’ markets, and plant nursery, she understands what makes plants thrive and how we can better understand the connection between microclimate and plant health. When she’s not on the land, Amber loves informing people of new ideas/things related to gardening, especially organic gardening, houseplants, and growing plants in a small space.