Clematis armandii is one of the many spring-blooming clematis and boy, is it a whopper – big plant but a big show as well.
When I say C. armandii is a BIG vine I’m talking 25′ or so. The flowers are white or pinkish (‘Apple Blossom’), large and showy. The leaves are distinctive for a clematis being long and elliptical rather than lobed. The problem with this vine is its vast size and its evergreen nature. You don’t think you should be whacking on it and it takes over, getting a huge buildup of ugly dead stuff and at the bottom which is probably right around your eye level. So you look at the tangle of stems and up at the giant mass of leaves and think, “Where do I start?” and decide to do something easier, like moving a rhodie. Another year passes and you are still looking at all those ugly old stems. If you plant this somewhere near the house where you will be looking at it up close you MUST be prepared to deal with it on a regular basis. How?
CLEMATIS ARMANDII PRUNING
- Don’t even bother planting it unless you have a proper-sized space picked out for it.
- Don’t even bother planting it unless you plan to prune it every year and do a little remedial guiding and pinching over the course of the summer.
- Train from a young age and be ruthless. Allow only a couple of stems. Tie it where you want it. Do some pinching of the ends to force growth lower down.
- Ideally prune within a month or so after blooming, before it starts setting buds for next year.
- If you are just reading this and your Clematis is a monster or you inherited a monster, cut that bad boy down. Yep, all the way to about a foot from the ground. Think of the root mass it took to support all that growth. You really think it is going to die on you? Unlikely. Cut it back and start training it to be a good vine.
- If you want flowers at eye level, you need to prune it lower so it can grow some shoots on which to set flowers.
What Can Go Wrong with Pruning Vines, from Cass Turnbull’s Guide to Pruning,
“I suppose if you pruned a vine too often, say every other week, it wouldn’t have enough time to set up flower buds and bloom.”
CLEMATIS ARMANDII FAST FACTS
- BIG, evergreen vine, blooms with fragrant, white or pinkish flowers in March around here.
- Likes sun to part shade but doesn’t like to cook.
- Likes some summer water and all clematis are reported to be heavy feeders.
- Requires regular attention.
For info on some other (smaller) clematis go to this old post, Clematis – Every Yard Needs a Few.