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Q&A - Clematis Habitats

This section is based on an article that appeared in a recent BCS Journal. It will be updated from time to time as new areas of interest arise.

If you have any questions about looking after clematis, please feel free to e-mail us and we will arrange for them to be answered for you by an experienced member of the society. We do this on the understanding that we may publish the question and answer at a later date without, of course, disclosing your name.

Cultivars for north facing walls
C. montana f. grandiflora as ground cover
Growing clematis in open woodland


Can you suggest three or four easy-to-grow clematis - species and cultivars for a sheltered north-facing wall. I am a not an experienced gardener?

All alpina, macropetala and tangutica types and the following large-flowered cultivars, 'Bees Jubilee', 'Carnaby', 'Dr Ruppel', 'Guernsey Cream', 'Hagley Hybrid', and 'Henryi' will grow happily on a north-facing wall. In fact, the flower colour is best preserved when not exposed to bright sunshine.

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Is it possible to grow a Clematis montana f. grandiflora as a ground cover under a very old pine tree? I have a large expanse of land under the pine tree?

Montanas can be used as ground cover but naturally prefer to climb. Before planting any plant under the canopy of the branches of a tree water the area thoroughly. Furthermore, ensure that plenty of water is available to the clematis after planting. It is a good idea to plant the montana at some distance away from the tree, and train the vines in to cover the bare area under the tree. A chicken wire mesh pegged down to the ground will help as the montana grows away. Do remember the plant needs light to give a good account of itself. Otherwise the resultant growths will be spindly.

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I am interested in planting some clematis in farmland ( with permission obviously ). Before I carry this idea any further, I would like to know if they are toxic to sheep or cattle.

Clematis are a member of the ranuculacea family (buttercups) - many members of this family are highly toxic, much more so than clematis. The members of this family produce ranunculin which, when eaten/ chewed produces protoanemonin (which is the toxic part). Therefore, Clematis (and buttercups and other members of the ranunculacea family) are toxic to most mammals when eaten in large enough amounts.


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