Sweet autumn clematis, Clematis terniflora (C. dioscorefolia, C. maximowiczianz, C. paniculata)

Quick facts and care essentials

Vines

• Semievergreen
• Zones 3-9, 14-24, 26, 28-41
• Full sun for tops, partial shade for roots
• Regular watering
• Climbs by: coiling Leafstalks

Sweet autumn clematis is covered with billowy masses of extremely fragrant, inch-wide white flowers from late summer to early fall, at a time when many other garden plants are finishing their bloom. Carefree and easy to grow, it's a vigorous vine that can reach 30 feet per season in milder zones. Medium to dark green leaves are divided into 3 to 5 oval, 1- to 2 1/2-inch-long leaflets. Tightly coiling leafstalks allow the plant to climb by grasping its own stems and any fairly slim vertical support. Nurseries and catalogs offer sweet autumn clematis under various botanical names; to make sure you're getting the right plant, look for the common name as well.

Sweet autumn clematis is happy with regular garden soil, but like all clematis, it performs best with its roots in shade, its leaves and stems in sunlight. Because it grows so vigorously, be sure you provide it with sufficient support.

The best time to prune and thin this vine is from late fall to early spring, before new growth begins. You can cut back stems heavily, leaving as little as 1 to 1 1/2 feet of the previous year's growth.