The Native Plant Store is Now Open Here

  • This page will remain accessible as a library page until I have all 200+ species profiles added to the new store software
  • Please see the Using the Plant Library  page  for some tips on how to make the most of the information here to select species for creating a healthy native plant community suited to the conditions of your site.

Clematis virginiana, Virginia Clematis

Clematis virginiana

Virginia Clematis

  • Average to wet or dry soils
  • Full sun to part shade 
  • Vine, can grow to 40' tall if support is available
  • Summer blooms followed by seed heads 
  • Native to Ontario, open woodland, forest and high moisture (but not flooded) ecosystems

One of two* Clematis species native to Ontario, and by far the more common and widespread, Virginia Clematis is a vigorous vine that will happily scramble across the ground, down a slope, up a tree or ramble over shrubs and sturdy perennials.

So happily, in fact, that I recommend some careful consideration when it comes to choosing a location for them.

Far more vigorous than the majority of large flowered Clematis species and varieties, I finally had to start trimming them back and pulling them down when they surpassed the 20’ mark on my neighbour’s full sized apple tree, which they had scaled from the top of my 6’ fence, since they were beginning to weigh down branches and compete for sunlight. They were also showing no signs of slowing down.

Not just upwardly mobile, they are also happy to spread out, rooting where they touch the ground to create new, independent offsets.

They can get started in shady spots but I have observed that the blooming is very sparse if they don’t receive plenty of sunlight on at least part of their foliage. -Hence their tendency to climb any obstacles in their search for a perfect sunbathing spot. Their climbing technique is twining, with leaf petioles securely grasping anything that they can wrap around. They lack the aerial roots or sticky suckers that allow some vines to attach to walls or the faces of fences, so they’ll need a bit of support to reach the top of a privacy fence, but one they reach the top they will happily sprawl along and/or weave themselves through a lattice.

Their flowers bloom over a couple of week period in the summer and are followed by long lasting, fluffy seed heads that are the inspiration for so many of their common names, like Old Man’s Beard and, due to their rather pointy form, Devil’s Darning Needles. If you plan to grow these from seed, try to gather and sow them as soon as they mature. While they can technically remain viable for an extended period, it can be very difficult to convince them to germinate once they have settled in for a long sleep. Planting them right away tends to lead relatively quick and successful germination.

While vigorous for a Clematis, these aren’t more likely to overwhelm a plant community than Virginia Creeper or Wild Grapes, two other widely distributed native vines.

*The other Clematis that is native to Ontario is the blue to purple flowered Clematis occidentalis.
-While looking this up in VASCAN, I noted that there are now nine introduced species of Clematis growing outside of cultivation in Ontario.

Species that were not sown / aren't being sown for 2023 are marked with an * 
Species that are native to this continent, but not historically native to Ontario are marked with a ~ 
While it rarely comes up, I do reserve the right to limit plant quantities, mostly to help ensure that as many native plant gardens as possible become a reality