Virgin’s Bower Facts – How To Grow Virgin’s Bower Clematis

By: Laura Miller

If you’re looking for a native flowering vine which thrivesin a variety of light conditions, Virgin’s Bower clematis (Clematisvirginiana) may be the answer. Although the Virgin’s Bower vine doesn’tproduce the large, showy flowers of other clematisvarieties, like Nelly Moser or Jackmanii, it’s one of the few vines whichblooms proficiently in the shade.

Virgin’s Bower Facts

Virgin’s Bower clematis is native to eastern United Statesand Canada. This perennial, deciduous vine can be found growing in moistlowlands, thickets and woodlands, especially those bordering streams and ponds.Virgin’s Bower vine readily climbs natural elements like trees and shrubs. It canalso spread along the surface of the ground, forming a dense foliage cover.

The Virgin’s Bower vine has several common names includingItalian clematis, woodbine and devil’s darning needle. Like other types ofclematis, it climbs by wrapping its leaf petioles around an upright support.Here are some additional Virgin’s Bower facts:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8
  • Light Requirements: Full sun to shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist soil
  • Bloom time: Late summer or early fall
  • Flower color: Pure white
  • Height: Climbs to 20 feet (6 meters)

How to Grow Virgin’s Bower

Virgin’s Bower clematis is perfect for naturalizing thosewoody or wilder areas of the garden. It’s fairly deerresistant and will readily grow along manmade structures like fences andtrellises. The fragrant white flowers attract hummingbirds,butterfliesand beeswhile the dense green foliage serves as nesting sites for birds. All parts ofthe plant are toxic to mammals.

The Virgin’s Bower vine prefers a rich, fertile loamy orsilty soil with average to above average moisture levels. It grows best inpartial shade. Virgin’s Bower care is much easier than with other types ofclematis and it has no reported insect or disease problems.

Is Virgin’s Bower Clematis Invasive?

Virgin’s Bower is a fast-growing clematis which canaggressively spread across the garden. It propagates easily from wind-dispersedseeds and by the asexual formation of suckers. Luckily, these can be easilycontrolled in the garden setting:

Unlike other types of clematis, Virgin’s bower is dioecious.Seed production requires both a male and female plant. To prevent seedformation, choose only male plants or purchase one Virgin’s Bower vine andpropagate through asexual means.

Virgin’s Bower is a species of clematis that blooms only on newwood, so radical pruningwon’t affect flower production. It can be lightly pruned to control its shapeanytime during the growing season or trimmed back to 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30cm.) above the soil line in late fall or early spring.

Despite the need to control its vigorous growth, thisclematis is not considered harmful to trees. With control measures, they can bea wonderful addition to a naturalized garden. Their profuse delicate whiteblossoms add an innocent charm to any fall-flowering garden bed.

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Clematis like to grow in full sun, with afternoon shade in hot summer areas. However, roots should be shaded by mulch or groundcover. Clematis prefer moist, well-drained soil with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH, Clematis is deep-rooted, so water thoroughly. Stems are fragile and should be handled gently.

Clematis are divided into pruning groups:

Group 1 plants bloom on old wood and require no pruning except to control the size, in which case prune lightly after flowering back to a pair of healthy buds.

Group 2 plants bloom first on old wood and then again on new prune lightly in early spring to shape and remove weak growth and then prune after bloom if desired.

Group 3 – plant flowers only on new wood and can be cut to the ground in fall or spring.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Annuals, Perennials, Vines, and Groundcovers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video: See this plant in the following landscapes: Courtyard GardenSea of DayliliesFlower Bonanza Garden Cultivars / Varieties:

  • 'Blue explosion'
  • 'Filigree'
  • Fireworks
'Blue explosion', 'Filigree', Fireworks Tags: #hummingbirds#poisonous#full sun tolerant#fall flowers#perennial#white flowers#purple flowers#pink flowers#red flowers#toxic#blue flowers#shade garden#apvg#fall interest#cottage garden#moist soil#NC native#spreading#vines#climbing vines#neutral ph#summer flowers#lavender flowers#glossy leaves#rich soil#self-seeding#spring interest#alkaline soil tolerant#wildflower garden#leathery leaves#asian garden#wet soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#partial shade tolerant#problem for cats#apvg-vg#problem for dogs#bee friendly#problem for horses#woodlands#container plants

flower, Johnston County, NC Chris Alberti CC BY 4.0 Flower and leaves Bernard Spragg CC0 Flower and leaves Liz West CC BY 2.0 Clematis pitcheri leaves and flowers peganum CC-BY-SA 2.0 flower, Charlotte NC Stacy Hodes CC BY 4.0 'Blue explosion' Flower Close-up (Durham County,NC)-Spring Carol Tierney CC BY 4.0 'Blue explosion' Vine (Durham County,NC)-Early Spring Carol Tierney CC BY 4.0 'Blue explosion' Vine Close-up (Durham County,NC) Carol Tierney CC BY 4.0 'Filigree' Flower Close-up (Wake County, NC) Cathy Dewitt CC BY 4.0

Clematis virginiana

Previously known as:

This easy to grow vine is a rapid grower, climbs by twisting petioles, and has bright green foliage. It prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil in the full sun to partial to heavy shade. Though it will grow in the dry shade. It is one of the few vines that will flower with large amounts of shade. It works well in a woodland or native garden where it has room to twine up supports or fences, otherwise, it will scramble along the ground and it can grow over and overwhelm landscape shrubs. It can be pruned any time during the growing season to maintain shape and encourage bushiness. If it gets too large prune it back to 8"-12" above the ground back to strong leaf buds any time from the late fall to early to promote new growth in the spring. It does self-seed and can become weedy through suckering as well. This plant may be less frequently damaged by deer than other clematis species (hybrids).

Clematis virginiana blooms in the autumn (around August to October) and is a U.S. native. In comparison to Clematis teniflora, Clematis virginiana is smaller. Being less maintenance, the male Clematis virginiana is not adorned with seeds (versus the female which does produce seeds) but is showy (in comparison to the female version).

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems: No serious problems. It can spread aggressively.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Annuals, Perennials, Vines, and Groundcovers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video: See this plant in the following landscape: Cultivars / Varieties: Tags: #fragrant#hummingbirds#white#showy flowers#deciduous#poisonous#fragrant flowers#fall flowers#white flowers#wildlife plant#nectar plant#low maintenance#fall interest#fast growing#trellises#deer resistant#feathery#native garden#autumn#groundcover#self-seeding#native vine#food source fall#food source herbage#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#arbor#moth larvae#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#black walnut toxicity tolerant#audubon

Clematis virginiana Dan Mullen CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Clematis virginiana pverdonk CC BY-NC 2.0 Clematis virginiana tillandsiausneoides CC-BY-SA 2.0

Myrica pensylvanica syn. Morella pensylvanica Wax myrtle, Northern bayberry SHRUB Z 3-6

Green flowers in summer then, "conspicuous in winter when covered with its grayish white fruits which stay on the branches until spring." Bailey


Green flowers in summer then, “conspicuous in winter when covered with its grayish white fruits which stay on the branches until spring.” Bailey “The leaves turn a fine brown-purple in the fall, but the berries are the thing – pewter in color, with a texture like those Fourth of July sparklers of childhood memory, they have a delicious fragrance.” Allen Lacy.

Size: 9’ x 10’
Care: sun in any soil
Native: Canada to Southeastern U.S. No pruning needed but can be pruned at any time of year, if desired.
Wildlife Value: Berries relished by chickadees, red-bellied woodpeckers, swallows, Titmouse, catbirds, bluebirds, Northern flicker & yellow-rumped warblers. Bayberry thickets also provide nesting sites for songbirds, offering excellent protection from predators.
Size: Fragrant leaves used for potpourri, abundant berries used to make candles. Good road-side plant, salt tolerant.

Probably 1 st collected for gardens by John Bartram (1699-1776). Offered for sale in Bartram Garden’s 1783 Broadside, America’s 1 st plant catalog. In 1800’s considered “very ornamental in the shrubbery.”


Watch the video: Virgins Bower and Tall Meadow Rue

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