Well it’s the first time since starting, a Clematis has made it to the plant of the week, maybe rightly or wrongly in your own views. For me while I like the flowers of some of the slightly earlier flowering Clematis like cirrhosa, it’s just the high amount of growth they can put on that puts me off them. Clematis macropetala is slightly more dainty, this deciduous Clematis will slowly ramble up to about 2.5m in height. The fine cut foliage makes the plant look delicate in the summer months. The new growth has a slight Downey growth over it hence the common name ‘the Downey Clematis
This beautiful Clematis was discovered growing in its native home of Province of Kansu, China and also Siberia. It was from China that Purdom introduced it around 1910, to the famous home of many new introductions, Coombe Wood nursery. It had been discovered many years before by d’Incarville 1724 and named by Ledebour when he discovered in growing in Siberia in 1829.
The name clematis comes from Klematis meaning vine branch while macropetala basically means large petals. They are tough cookies, taking temperatures down to -40c in their native country and almost the ability to grow in. Any site and aspect! Only time they struggle in, is water logged land. well you would expect that being they are mountain plants wouldn’t you. Although the flowers are so beautiful, the seed heads can also be stunning in the summmer light. Growing wise, they are ideally planted with a lot of organic material and feed and like all clematis, planted about 150mm deeper than the top of the pot. The reason you plant them this deep, is so the stems root as well and if it gets the dreaded Clematis wilt, there’s some of the plant left to regrow. The blight attacks the Clematis at ground level, so new stems are able to grow up from the stems below ground. That said Clematis macropetala is not as effected by wilt. Feed wise a good mulch in the spring with a feed using the ever reliable Vitas Q4 is ideal. Pruning wise it doesn’t need any real pruning to encourage flowering. If it does get too messy looking, they can be pruned hard back or lightly trimmed after flowering. This will give it time to produce new stems needed for flowering next year.
There are indeed so many forms of this beautiful Clematis. Here are some of my favourite ones
Clematis macropetala ‘Maidwell Hall
Clematis macropetala ‘Markhams Pink’