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Clematis and Roses

Clematis and Roses have been natural companions for centuries.

Their garden care requirements are very similar and therefore, with careful choice of varieties of both genera of plants, some rewarding and exciting ways of growing them can be achieved. By choosing plants with similar annual pruning requirements, the amount of labour in the garden is also minimized. The ultimate aim of partnering clematis with roses should be to enjoy the flowers of both plants individually and together. The basic pairing rules outlined for other garden plants also apply to clematis and rose partner­ship; however, the flower color and flowering times of both clematis and roses should be taken into con­sideration if the goal is to have them in flower at the same time.

Climbing roses and clematis are supreme companions, the King and Queen of climbers. Climbing roses and clematis are natural companions as both are climbers reaching for the sun. In its movement upwards the clematis needs to cling and the rose gives it ideal support. The two are alike in requiring the same growing conditions. Both require a rich soil. Both benefit from the same fertilisers. Both, especially clematis, need to be well watered and so each gains from the watering programme. Many enemies of roses and clematis are common to both. The fungal condition "blackspot" is matched by the fungal condition of "stem rot" in clematis. Both respond to the same agents. Harmful insects on both plants respond to the same insecticides. A great majority of climbing roses and climbing clematis are of a similar size with the result that neither swamps the other. Fragrance is rare in Large Flowered clematis while common in roses. Here again they complement one another.

Colour matching
Roses have a preponderance of flowers with yellow and orange colouring. Clematis on the other hand have a preponderance of flowers with blue or purple. There are no blue roses as yet. There are very few yellow clematis - the Orientalis Group alone being significant. Here is a great opportunity for complementary matching. Yellows and blues make wonderful contrasting colours. The yellows and the blues must be mixed in the right proportions. This proportion is one quantity of yellow to four quantities of blue. Too much yellow swamps the clematis which will not be noticed.

Both roses and clematis, of course, have a number of colours other than blue and yellow - white, pink, red. When the colours that are being matched are close together on the colour wheel, the matchings are said to be harmonious. When, on the other hand, the colours are distant from one another on the colour wheel, then the matching is said to be contrasting.

Some harmonious matchings are as follows:

Pink roses
and
Violet clematis
Red roses
and
Mauve clematis
Light yellow roses
and
Pink clematis
Cream roses
and
Lilac clematis
White roses
and
Lilac clematis
Pink roses
and
Deep pink clematis
Deep pink roses
and
Pink clematis
Deep pink roses
and
White clematis
Red roses
and
Pink clematis


Some contrasting matchings are:

White roses
and
Red clematis
Yellow roses
and
Mauve clematis
Orange roses
and
Blue clematis
Red roses
and
Green leaves
Red roses
and
White clematis
Pink roses
and
Purple clematis


Matching flowering periods
Most roses flower in mid-summer, but there are exceptions. Some such as 'Maigold', 'Meg', 'Albertine' flower early. Clematis on the other hand have plants in flower throughout the year. These facts dictate the three ways in which matching can occur.

1. Clematis can be grown on the roses before the roses flower.
2. The clematis can be grown to coincide with the flowering of the roses.
3. The clematis can be grown on the roses after the roses have finished flowering, i.e. the rose is used as a support.

Early flowering clematis such as the Alpinas, Macropetalas and some of the early flowering Large Flowered ('Miss Bateman', 'Guernsey Cream', 'Wada's Primrose', 'Nelly Moser', 'Lasurstern') can climb into the climbing roses before they have come to flower.

Arranging for clematis and roses to flower together can be a difficult art. It is sometimes achieved more by chance than by planning. Nevertheless they can be wonderful when achieved. Success is more likely when the rose is one of the continuous flowering kind such as - 'Golden Showers', 'Mermaid', 'Compassion', 'Pink Perpetue', Parkdirektor Riggers', 'New Dawn'.

Some roses finish flowering quite early, for example, 'Meg' and 'Maigold'. Thus a large area of greenery becomes available to the clematis for support after the rose has flowered.

Using clematis
Experience has shown, that up to three clematis can be planted to one climbing rose. One clematis is put on each side of the trunk of the climbing rose and then a further one is put at the middle to go into the main trunk. I have noticed that the failure of growing clematis with roses comes from two causes: 1. The clematis is planted too close to the rose and thus it's hungry roots are competing with the rose roots. The clematis should be at least 2ft (60cms) away from the rose and led to the climbing rose by a cane or string. 2.Underwatering. Climbing roses can go without water for fairly long periods. The clematis cannot.

The clematis can be selected to all flower together or they can flower in sequence over a period of time. If the clematis flower together there is maximum impact for a short period, for example three 'Perle d'Azur' on the rose 'Mermaid'. If they flower in sequence there is some colour for a long period. For example, the sequence could be an early season clematis such as 'Lasurstern', a mid-season clematis such as 'Hagley Hybrid', and a late season clematis such as 'Lady Betty Balfour'.

The clematis selected for a particular climbing rose can be one variety to make a dramatic impact. For example several 'General Sikorski' on the rose 'New Dawn'. If the clematis are of different varieties then the flowers of the three clematis can be allowed to mingle together, often making a most colourful impact.

Popular climbing roses
Each year the Royal National Rose Society, UK, get advice from a panel of rosarians on the most popular climbing roses at that year. The recommendations with regard to the climbing roses have hardly varied over the last 20 years. Below you will find a list of popular climbing roses, organised according to their season of flowering.

List of Popular Climbing Roses

Name
Colour
Season
'Maigold'
Yellow
Early season
'Albertine'
Pink
Early season
'Zephirine Drouhin'
Pink
Early season
'Handel'
Cream, edged pink
Mid season
'Schoolgirl'
Orange
Mid season
'Golden Showers'
Yellow
Mid & continuous
'Mermaid'
Yellow
Mid & continuous
'Compassion'
Pink and apricot
Mid & continuous
'Pink Perpétue'
Pink and carmine
Mid & continuous
'Parkdirektor Riggers'
Deep red
Mid & continuous
'New Dawn'
White and pink
Continuous
'Galway Bay'
Glowing pink
Continuous


If you only have room for one climbing rose then I would recommend 'Compassion'. (Long period of flowering. Beautifully shaped blooms. Fragrant.) If you have room for three, then I would recommend 'Compassion', 'New Dawn' (long flowering, perfect for any clematis other than white, fragrant) 'Pink Perpétue' (wonderful with purple clematis).

Some easy combinations

Twelve Easy Combinations

1. 'Maigold' and 'Lasurstern' Early season
2. 'Meg' and 'John Warren' "
3. 'Madame Grégorie Staechelin' and 'Miss Bateman' "
4. 'New Dawn' and 'Twilight' Mid season
5. 'Schoolgirl' and 'Prince Charles' "
6. 'Mermaid' and 'Perle d'Azur' "
7. 'Parkdirektor Riggers' and 'John Huxtable' "
8. 'Compassion' and 'Little Nell' "
9. 'Pink Perpétue' and 'Gipsy Queen' Late season
10. 'Casino' and 'Victoria' "
11. 'Golden Showers' and 'Ascotiensis' "
12. 'Galway Bay' and 'Huldine' "


Other roses
Shrub roses can be used for supporting clematis in the same way as climbing roses - before the shrub flowers, to coincide with the shrubs flowering, or to follow the shrubs flowering. For example a macropetala such as 'Markham's Pink' could be used to coincide with the yellow flowers of 'Canary Bird'. Or a number of clematis could use the support of the 'Canary Bird' shrub after it has flowered.

Large beds of upright roses such as the bush and cluster roses can look very monotonous. Interest can be introduced by leading clematis such as the Jackmanii and the Viticella Groups into the roses. You can even put canes in a line in the direction in which you want the clematis to go. These are discreetly hidden in the roses. The clematis are then tied in to encouraged them to follow the line of the canes.

A major development in recent years in the rose world is the coming of ground cover roses. 'Nozomi' was one of the first. Now there are many, such as 'Flower Carpet', 'White Flower Carpet', the county series and a number named after birds such as 'Grouse'. There is a new yellow `Flower Carpet Sunshine'. The individual flowers --themselves are not spectacular but the total effect is most colourful. These make an ideal background for clematis. For a really dramatic effect grow up to half a dozen of the same variety of clematis on a number of the roses.

With all the ingenuity in the world it is sometimes not possible to get your favourite clematis to flower at the same time as your favourite rose. But you could still have the effect by simply cutting blooms from both and making a floral arrangement. On your table will be a vivid example of the beauty of the rose and the clematis together.


Additional Reference Material

clematis Kids Contest

A Brief Clematis History - This is a brief article reprinted from the British Clematis Society

A Quick Guide to Clematis Pruning - This is a brief article reprinted from the British Clematis Society

Clematis Basics - This is a ACS care sheet which is meant to provide American gardeners with some brief recommendations for clematis care

Clematis Botany - This is a brief article reprinted from the British Clematis Society

Correct Clematis Pruning depends on Bloom Type - This is a brief article reprinted from the Kansas State University – Research and Extension

Growing Clematis in Containers - This is an Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet reprinted from their Horticulture and Crop Science department

Growing Clematis - This is an article reprinted from the Missouri Botanical Garden - Kemper Center for Home Gardening

Planting Clematis - This is a brief article reprinted from the British Clematis Society

Clematis and Roses - This is a reprint of an article by Beth Marie Renaud, from the National Gardening Association