Sweet Autumn Clematis

Clematis terniflora

Clematis terniflora

(Synonyms: C. maximowicziana, C. paniculata, C. dioscoreifolia)

Many of you have bought Sweet Autumn Clematis with labels stating its botanical name as Clematis paniculata rather than its current name Clematis terniflora.  Well, if you want to be politically correct, the name which is accepted by today’s taxonomists is Clematis terniflora.  This is because there is actually a native New Zealand species that already had the rights to the name Clematis paniculata.  Sweet Autumn Clematis has suffered several different name changes over the years, which can prove to be confusing to the gardening public. However, we should all be thankful that one of the original choices Clematis maximowicziana, went by the wayside. That would have been a real mouthful. 

Clematis terniflora hails originally from parts of Asia including Japan and China.  It was introduced into our country in the late 1800’s and can now be found growing naturally in fencerows and on roadside areas of the East and Midwest.

It is blessed with delightfully scented flowers and blooms from August to October, hence its name ‘sweet autumn’.  During fall it is covered with masses of white star-like blossoms ranging in diameter from ¾” to 1¼”.  After blooming, the plant rewards you with hundreds of attractive, fluffy seedheads that are fabulous in floral arrangements.

Clematis terniflora 

It is easy to grow and extremely vigorous.  Select a location in your garden that has plenty of room for it to roam because it can grow to 20 feet or more.  It is an excellent candidate for covering a fence or large pergola and could even make a nice privacy screen on its own.  It requires hard pruning.

In the milder winter areas of this country (USDA Zones 10 and 11) Clematis terniflora may be a semi-evergreen vine, however, in colder locales (USDA Zone 5 through 9), it is a deciduous vine.  It loves the sun, so give it a bright, sunny location!

On a final note: I would be remiss if I did not mention that some gardeners believe this clematis can prove to be a little invasive.