As the summer fades, so do many of the beautiful floral displays we’ve come to enjoy.
Sure, we have fall foliage, sunny chrysanthemums, and moody asters to look forward to. But sometimes I know I’m just not ready to let go of the floral abundance of the warmer months.
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If you’re feeling the same way about the end of summer, it’s time to add some dazzling fall flowers into the garden mix, and clematis can be just the thing.
When many people think of clematis, they picture spring-blooming beauties that fade as summer progresses. But some species and cultivars are just hitting their stride when autumn arrives.
In this guide, we’re going to cover some of the prettiest, most impressive options that put on one heck of a fall display. Here’s a sneak peak of all that lies ahead:
Just a quick note before we dive in:
Clematis are grouped into three categories. Group 1 blooms in the spring, Group 2 repeats throughout the summer, and Group 3 plants bloom in the summer and fall.
Group 3 types flower on new growth that developed that year and Group 2 varieties produce blooms on both new and old growth.
In this guide we’ll focus on Group 3, with a few Group 2 plants that look their best during the fall season tossed into the mix.
Clematis x ‘Arabella’ begins the show in midsummer and keeps it going through the fall. When they first open their petals, the flowers are dark violet-blue.
Over the season, the individual flowers fade to soft blue with a mauve center. This is one of the most consistent and longest-blooming options out there.
This lovely lady doesn’t vine and crawl like most other clematis that we grow in our home gardens.
It’s self-supporting and has a bushy growth habit that tops out at about five feet tall. It dies back at the end of the year, so you won’t have to deal with pruning.
All these lovely characteristics make it obvious why this Group 3 hybrid is the most popular of the non-vining clematis and a winner of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
‘Bijou’ is a petite beauty with an oversized impact.
While this shrub only reaches about a foot tall when mature, the massive purple flowers that last for weeks and weeks, starting in midsummer and maintaining through fall – are anything but pint-sized.
This Group 2 type has a mounding habit and dies back to the ground in fall, so it requires no pruning maintenance.
Put C. x ‘Evipo030,’ as it’s also called, in pots or hanging containers for an even bigger impact.
Ready to bring this elegant-yet-petite flower home? ‘Bijou’ is available at Nature Hills Nursery.
3. Comtesse de Bouchaud
If you want a clematis that will bloom for a good, long time, check out the ‘Comtesse de Bouchaud.’ She shows off with her dress of rosy-pink flowers with a delicate silver edge starting in early summer, and she doesn’t stop until mid-fall.
And we’re not talking just a few blossoms here and there. This vine is absolutely smothered in blooms. Is there even foliage on this plant? It’s hard to tell, sometimes!
A Group 3 type, it’s a popular cultivar that grows to an impressive 12 feet tall, with long vines covered in leathery leaves that add interest to the garden for the short time when the flowers aren’t in bloom.
4. Daniel Deronda
No tragic tale of woe, here – ‘Daniel Deronda’ is a success by any measure. The large violet-blue blossoms cover eight-foot vines with a flush of semi-double flowers in late spring and a second flush of singles in the early fall.
Plus, it’s one of the easiest and most reliable varieties to grow.
This is a Group 2 type and it should be pruned thoughtfully. If you give it a light trim in late summer after the first flush, you’ll see a second flush of semi-double blossoms before the season’s end.
5. Ernest Markham
Some clematis whisper in the garden, with subtle coloring and small flowers. But ‘Ernest Markham’ shouts – in the best possible way. Each one is huge, up to six inches in diameter. The petals are vibrant magenta.
This RHS Award of Garden Merit winner grows quickly, reaching up to 12 feet tall. A member of Group 3, trim it about a foot above ground level in early spring for the best display.
Lilac petals with a white center contrast against the dark purple anthers in this elegant sport of ‘Venosa Violacea,’ a beloved cultivar for nearly 150 years.
This is a popular C. viticella cultivar thanks to its delicate-looking foliage that dances in the wind like that of a quaking aspen.
Petite ‘Fairydust’ sprinkles its magic into the garden without taking over. The vines stay around six feet long with a compact growth habit.
You don’t have to make a wish to bring this one home. Just pop on over to Home Depot for a plant in a four-inch container.
‘Hanajima’ is a cultivar of C. integrifolia that shares many of the same characteristics as other cultivars of this species, including the nodding, urn-shaped flowers.
But instead of the classic purple hue, these blossoms are pale pink contrasted with bright yellow anthers. The silky seed heads offer some winter interest.
This cultivar tops out at about five feet tall and doesn’t require training. Instead, it is self-supporting or can be leaned against a structure like the side of your home or a fence.
Home Depot carries live plants in four-inch pots so you can amp up your autumn garden.
8. Happy Jack
You can’t help but feel happy when you look at the intense purple-plum flowers with sunny yellow stamens on this gorgeous improved version of the ever-popular ‘Jackmanii’ cultivar.
It blooms for a good, long time, from early summer through fall. The blossoms are huge, too. Each one can be up to five inches in diameter.
The vines grow up to six feet tall and this type doesn’t need much more care than cutting it down to about 18 inches above the ground in the early spring.
Bring a little joy to your garden by snagging a live plant in a quart or gallon container at Home Depot.
‘Henryi’ should have been named “Humungi,” or something. Okay, naming plants isn’t my strong suit, but this one deserves a moniker that reflects its best asset!
It features some of the largest white flowers you can find on any clematis. Each blossom is up to nine inches across. You could practically eat dinner on it.
The vines can sprawl up to 15 feet on this Group 2 cultivar. Enjoy the flowers in early summer with a second, equally impressive flush in the fall. Encourage the best floral show by pruning this plant down in early spring before new growth starts.
If you can’t wait to trail ‘Humung…,’ er, I mean ‘Henryi’ up a trellis or fence in your yard, run to Nature Hills Nursery for one of your own.
10. Ivan Olsson
This delicate Group 2 cultivar walks a delicate path between the domains of purple and white clematis.
The petals are pure white down the center with purple edges down the sides, forming a six-inch-wide flower. Occasionally, they will be double but these are typically single.
This cultivar was bred from presidential parentage – ‘The President,’ to be exact – which is an intensely purple and very popular cultivar.
It is named for the Swedish amateur gardener and clematis enthusiast who gave breeder Magnus Johnson the seed that produced this plant.
Though the flowers of ‘Ivan Olsson’ don’t show a family resemblance, the rest of the plant does. Both cultivars grow to the same height of about 10 feet, and both bloom first in early summer and again in early fall.
Snap up a four-inch potted plant at Home Depot.
11. Madame Julia Correvon
‘Madame Julia Correvon’ is a C. viticella cultivar with stunning, five-inch-wide maroon flowers with creamy white stamens.
Part of Group 3, it blooms from early summer to early fall. And it’s such a reliable, profuse bloomer that it nabbed the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit.
Prune the 12-foot-long vines back to one foot above the ground in the early spring.
Get ready to meet one of the most stunning clematis vines out there. This “little duckling” is truly unlike anything else.
The first flush of flowers, which appear on last year’s wood, treats you to semi-double mauve-pink blooms with a bold maroon stripe down the center of each petal. At the center is a ruffle of medium purple petals.
In the late summer, a second flush of blossoms emerges on the current year’s growth.
Each is a single, pink blossom with a maroon line down the center. In a good year with the right conditions, there is hardly a break between the first and second flush.
This plant stays fairly petite at just six feet tall, which makes it ideal for gardeners who want something that can shine fantastically in a container.
13. Princess Diana
If you didn’t know better, you might think ‘Princess Diana’ was some kind of vining tulip plant, with bright raspberry and cream flowers covering eight-foot vines. The prominent seed heads are just an added bonus.
You’ll sometimes see this cultivar labeled as ‘The Princess of Wales,’ but whatever it’s called, you can expect to see tulip-shaped blossoms on this Group 3 plant from late spring through the fall.
While any clematis can be grown as a ground cover, this one does particularly well because of its upright flowers and dense foliage.
You can bring this princess home to your kingdom by heading to Nature Hills Nursery.
14. Rouge Cardinal
The petals on ‘Rouge Cardinal’ are a striking, velvety, bold red that draws the eye wherever you put it.
Add to that the fact that the flowers are seven inches across, and it’s a real statement piece, especially climbing up a trellis or obelisk.
This Group 3 type starts blooming in midsummer and then pops up again in early fall. The first flush usually features double flowers and the second is a mix of double and single, but extremely profuse.
15. Sweet Autumn
Sweet autumn (C. terniflora) is the queen of the autumn clematis.
This species has naturalized in many parts of the US, which should tell you how easy it is to grow. It also tells you that you might want to be careful about planting it in case your community has deemed it invasive.
The 20-foot vines on this plant are absolutely covered in fragrant, petite white flowers from late summer until the first frost.
If you want to prevent it from spreading all over the place, just give it a quick prune after flowering to cut down the seed heads. Or, leave them in place for the ornamental interest they provide.
16. Sweet Summer Love
She may sound like a sweetheart, but this plant is one tough cookie.
If you’ve ever tried to train a clematis vine only to snap the brittle wood, you know they can be a little bit fragile. The vines on ‘Sweet Summer Love’ are tough and resilient – but she has a soft side, too.
The fragrance from the blossoms is unreal, heady enough to fill your yard with their sweet, delicate scent all summer and through the early fall.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget the maroon, nearly red flowers that gradually transition to deep purple over their lives.
Snag a plant of your own in a gallon-size pot at Home Depot.
This cultivar is no shrinking violet. The big, bold, flowers feature petals with a deep purple base and cream tips, all on an eight-foot-tall vine.
Truly unlike any other clematis out there, the young flowers appear more purple as they first open, but as the unusual curved sepals start to unfold, the plant looks more and more creamy.
And the flowers aren’t the only stand-out feature. This type first blooms in the spring, followed by a second flush from late summer through fall.
If the display seems less than impressive at any time, just trim the whole plant back a bit and you’ll be treated to a new flush.
Intrigued? It’s no surprise. ‘Taiga’ wowed attendees when it was introduced at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2017.
Make it a part of your own flower show by picking up a one-and-a-half-gallon container at Plants By Mail.
Amp Up Your Autumn Display with Fall-Blooming Clematis
There’s nothing more attractive than an arbor or fence smothered in blossoms, except maybe one smothered in blossoms during the fall when so many other plants have already lost their sparkle.
Fall-blooming clematis put on a show that’s pretty hard to rival, and they do it when all those summer stunners are starting to go to sleep.
Which one of these options is calling your name? Have you grown any of these top picks before? Let us know in the comment section below.
If you’re enjoying the world of clematis plants and you’re interested in learning more about these classic garden vines, we have a few other guides that you might find useful. Check these out next: