Clematis Trials

Clematis Trials at MSU Horticulture Gardens

'Broughton Star'
Photo courtesy of J. Parkers

The famous Clematis – a plant prized for its numerous, delicate flowers in shades of white, purple, blue, pink, and red. One that speaks of elegance, providing a noble vertical element in the garden, with luscious foliage and flowers so prominent and eye-catching that you can’t help but talk about it with your friends and family. Along with its beauty comes a bit of mystery behind care and maintenance – pruning groups and a number of different varieties and cultivars can make Clematis seem intimidating. Our attraction along with our curiosity for clematis has led us to an exciting point – we are starting our very first three-year Clematis trial this summer at the gardens.

Our trialing journey begins with twenty-four varieties of Clematis, each on its own trellis displayed around the anniversary plaza, just south of our hosta collection. Cultivars have been carefully selected for color, flower shape, and general reputation as a well-performing variety in the horticulture world. Our goals involve collecting data to determine how well each cultivar performs in the Michigan garden. Attention will be directed towards floral development, flower size/coverage, and disease resistance. While we are excited for the installment and curation of this project, there are a few cultivars that I am particularly excited about trialing.
One particular cultivar comes to mind that got me excited – maybe because I’m a nerd for smaller flowers that force you to get up close to really see them. Clematis texensis ‘Happy Diana’ is a Japanese cultivar, touting the largest flowers in the texensis group. With bell-shaped, pink flowers that seem almost from a fairy tale, I am truly looking forward to seeing how this variety grows in our gardens!

If you know me well, you know I’m a sucker for chartreuse colors in the garden, so I had to add this color to our Clematis trials. ‘Stolwijk Gold’ bears such foliage, along with delicate, dangling purple flowers that look striking. Both staff and students have been looking forward to seeing how ‘Stolwijk Gold’ performs over the years.

I can’t help but love fine-detailed, delicate looks – particularly with vining plants, which is why I am looking forward to growing and evaluating Clematis montana ‘Broughton Star’. A pink, unusual, double-flowering variety with two-toned flowers holds a reputation of flowering profusely. Be sure to come visit next
spring to see this beauty showing off!

Clematis have been incorporated into gardens across the world since the sixteenth century. They have been bred extensively throughout the world, proving their prominence and importance in ornamental horticulture.
The Clematis trial is anticipated to be installed this summer, with data collection to continue for a duration of three years. Come visit when you can, and learn more about your favorite vining perennial while enjoying our displays throughout the gardens!

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