Clematis vitalba

Clematis vitalba, also known as Traveler’s Joy or wild Clematis Old Man’s Beard, is a white flowered vine native to Europe, southwest Asia, and north Africa.

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Clematis vitalba in bloom.

This is a deciduous Clematis, a climbing vine with medium green leaves.

The starry white blossoms resemble those of the Arabian jasmine vine.

This long blooming summer Clematis produces masses of flowers throughout the growing season. Each blossom is followed by a greenish seedhead. As the seedheads ripen, tufts of silvery whisps protrude from them.

These are what led to this plant being called Old Man’s Beard. When the seedheads occur in groups they look like white beards. These beards are quite showy, but they can cause a problem.

A Clematis vitalba seedhead after a rain.

Wild Clematis Problems

In certain parts of the country, this beautiful vine is choking out other species.

For instance, Clematis vitalba may not be the best Clematis for northwest gardens. Its purple stems grow 100 feet into trees in Seattle, Washington. In that climate its main branches can swell to the thickness of a child’s wrist.

It is smothering parks and greenbelts there.

Old Mans Beard is the kudzu of the pacific northwest.

So why grow it?

This vine has many virtues. Let’s explore them.

Gardening with Clematis vitalba

This vine will take hold and grow in any type of soil. It will control erosion on a bank and it will do so quickly. Traveler’s joy is probably the fastest growing climber in the Clematis genus.

Another selling point is that this deep shade Clematis is one of a very few plants which does not require much sunlight.

Then there is the sheer loveliness of this plant at the height of summer bloom, or in winter when it’s adorned by the airy seedheads. It lends a desirable tropical look to temperate zone gardens.

Clematis ligusticifolia

Clematis ligusticifolia is an American native which looks nearly identical to C. vitalba but is less invasive.

You can tell them apart by the leaves. Clematis ligusticifolia’s leaves are darker, thicker and more prominently veined than vitalba’s.

If you really want the look of vitalba but are afraid of it getting out of control, plant C. ligusticifolia instead.

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Related Pages:

Pruning Clematis
Tips for pruning Clematis vines. When and how to prune the different types. How to trim evergreen, hardy and bush Clematis plants.

Clematis Armandii
Clematis armandii bears a lightly fragrant, white clematis flower. An unusual four petal clematis, it looks like 2 propeller blades connected in the center by a tiny brush.

Jackmanii Clematis
Jackmanii Clematis bears the deepest purple clematis flower of any of the clematis varieties. Jackmanii Superba Clematis is an improved cultivar of Clematis Jackmanii with larger more rounded blooms.

Ernest Markham Clematis
Ernest Markham Clematis (sometimes misspelled Ernst or Earnest). A cold hardy, summer blooming clematis of the Clematis viticella group.

Clematis Varieties
The best native, small flowered Clematis plants and large flowered clematis hybrids for ornamental gardening.

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