Clematis virginiana, commonly called virgin’s bower, is a fragrant, fall-blooming clematis that is somewhat similar in flower to sweet autumn clematis (C. terniflora), but lacks the tough, leathery leaves of the latter. It is native to eastern North America, including Missouri where it typically occurs in moist low woodland areas and thickets bordering streams, ponds and fence rows. It is a vigorous, deciduous, twining vine with a rampant growth habit. If given support, it will climb rapidly with the aid of tendrilous leaf petioles to 20’. Without support, it will sprawl along the ground as a dense, tangled ground cover. Features sweetly aromatic, 1.25” diameter, pure white flowers (each with 4 narrow petal-like sepals) in axillary panicles from late August to October in a profuse bloom which typically covers the foliage. This is a dioecious species, with the pistillate flowers giving way to attractive, plume-like seed heads (hence the sometimes common name of old man’s beard). Compound green leaves, each with 3-5 oval to elliptic sharply-toothed leaflets.
Growing Instructions for the Virgin's Bower
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted in the fall for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Place the seeds in a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a refrigerator for two months. 2. Fill a pot with potting soil. 3. Sow the seeds on the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil. 4. Water the container and leave it to drain. 5. Put the pot in a warm, sunny area. 6. Water the pot regularly so that the soil is moist but not wet. 7. The seedlings can be transplanted when they are a few inches tall.