Clematis varieties: 18 beautiful climbers to add to your backyard

Our favorite clematis varieties will elevate any garden wall or trellis with their fabulous flowers

'Apple Blossom' clematis
(Image credit: Jane Tansi/Alamy Stock Photo)

There are many clematis varieties that are worth adding to a planting scheme for their long flowering period, pretty blooms, and climbing nature. Clematis are also one of the few groups of garden plants that can be in flower all year round: comprising around 300 species, some bloom in spring, others flower in summer and fall, and a few perform during winter. 

There are types to suit every garden style: from cottage gardens to smart urban terraces. Some have pale blooms, others flower in bold colors; a few have an incredible scent, and some provide nectar for wildlife. What's more, clematis care is relatively easy. So, if you want to pep up a pergola, add a sense of romantic charm to a garden wall, or create a floral screen for extra privacy with the help of a trellis, these plants will provide a stunning solution.

18 of our top clematis varieties for vertical interest and beautiful blooms

From pretty, pale flowers perfect for softer schemes to moody tones that ooze with opulence, these clematis varieties are bound to elevate the view in your backyard.

1. 'Étoile Violette'

clematis `Etoile Violette'

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  • Hardiness: USDA 4-8 (UK H6) 
  • Height: 10ft (3m) 
  • Pruning group: 3
  • Best for: Beginners

Dramatic deep-purple flowers with pale-gold stamens adorn this deservedly popular clematis from mid-summer to early fall. 

It is a viticella variety, which is arguably one of the best clematis groups. 'They are easy to grow, hardy, very floriferous, and have numerous flowers over a long period in summer,' says Richard Hodson, who holds a National Collection of viticella and texensis at Hawthornes Clematis Nursery (opens in new tab).

Richard recommends 'Étoile Violette' as a good clematis for amateur gardeners, as it's 'virtually bomb-proof'. He advises planting it deeply, watering it well, and then chopping it back to the ground in late winter.

2. 'Arabella'

Clematis 'Arabella'

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  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H6) 
  • Height: 5ft (1.5m)
  • Pruning group: 3
  • Best for:  An obelisk

Beautiful blue flowers adorn this semi-herbaceous variety from late spring all the way to early fall.  

'This is a long-standing favorite of our family,' says Peter Skeggs-Gooch, owner of Thorncroft Clematis Nursery (opens in new tab)

'Whether facing south and baked in the sun or in the shade of a tree, it always flourishes and provides the longest flowering period of all clematis.'

A scrambler by nature, Peter adds that 'Arabella' requires tying in if you want to grow it up a climbing plant support, such as an obelisk.

3. 'Sieboldiana' 

Clematis Florida Sieboldii

(Image credit: Tim Gainey/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 6-9 (UK H3)
  • Height: 8ft (2.5m)
  • Pruning group: 3
  • Best for: Exotic flowers

This is a wonderful florida variety of clematis for a jungle-style garden with a tropical plants theme. The white and rich-purple blooms are similar to those of the passion flower and are produced throughout the summer, into mid-autumn. 

Being tender, it is most suited to a sheltered, sunny, warm garden wall in mild areas or it can be grown in a pot that is overwintered indoors in cold regions.

4. 'Alba Luxurians'

Clematis viticella 'Alba Luxurians'

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  • Hardiness: USDA 4-8 (UK H6)
  • Height: 10ft (3m)
  • Pruning group: 3
  • Best for: Urban elegance

This splendid old variety of clematis has white flowers tipped apple-green from mid-summer to mid-autumn.

It is one of Richard’s favorite viticellas, and grows in the iconic White Garden at Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent, where it clads a brick wall. 

Plant in well-drained, retentive soil in sheltered sun or semi-shade, ensuring the roots are shaded by other plants (such as shrubs).

5. 'White Columbine'

clematis 'white columbine'

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  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H6)
  • Height: 7ft (2m)
  • Pruning group: 1
  • Best for: Contemporary gardens

This C. alpina gem has papery white flowers with long sepals in spring, followed by attractive, silky seed heads. 

It's great for livening up a shrub that performs in a different season: for example, Euonymus alatus, which is grown for its fall color. 

It does best in soil types that are retentive, well-drained, and neutral to alkaline in sun or semi-shade. Ensure the roots are shaded.

6. C. rehderiana

Clematis rehderiana

(Image credit: Garey Lennox/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H5)
  • Height: 14ft (4m)
  • Pruning group: 3
  • Best for: Wildlife

This is a lovely species of clematis that deserves to be more widely grown. 

From summer to fall, these bee-friendly plants are hung with small primrose-yellow bells that have a lovely sweet scent.

It can take time to establish, but eventually produces a vigorous, charming climber for well-drained soil.

7. 'Lambton Park'

Clematis tangutica 'Lambton Park'

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  • Hardiness: USDA 5-9 (UK H6)
  • Height: 10ft (3m)
  • Pruning group: 3
  • Best for: Seed heads

The glorious lantern-shaped flowers of this tangutica variety resemble lemon peel and have a coconut scent. 

The large bright-yellow flowers are produced from early summer to fall and then morph into silky silver seed heads that catch the sun.

8.  'Nelly Moser'

'Nelly Moser' clematis

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  • Hardiness: USDA 4-8 (UK H6) 
  • Height: 8ft (2.5m)
  • Pruning group: 2  
  • Best for: Semi-shade

Bred in France in 1897, 'Nelly Moser' has large (sometimes 8in/20cm wide) white blooms with pink stripes. 

Gardeners who dislike the big-flowered clematis may reel, but this old variety has a charm about it. It flowers in late spring to early summer and then again in early fall, followed by silky seed heads. 

Since the color fades in strong sunlight, it is best on a north or east-facing wall or garden fence.

9. 'Princess Diana'

'Princess Diana' clematis

(Image credit: David Cheshire/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H5)
  • Height: 7ft (2m)
  • Pruning group: 3
  • Best for: Bright color

This texensis clematis produces vivid red-pink trumpet flowers from mid-summer to fall.

'The blooms are just delightful and carry on well into the autumn,' says Peter Skeggs-Gooch. It grows very well with types of roses and other climbers. 'You don't need an open fence space to plant this wonderful clematis – only room for a planting hole,' he adds.

10. 'Constance'

clematis 'Constance'

(Image credit: Jason Smalley Photography/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H6)
  • Height: 7ft (2m) 
  • Pruning group: 1
  • Best for: Spring color

A super climber for spring color, this alpine clematis produces semi-double rich-pink blooms that dangle above green foliage. 

Not requiring any pruning, it's perfect for low-maintenance gardens. Just make sure it's grown in retentive, well-drained neutral to alkaline soil in sun or semi-shade and that its roots are kept cool.

11. 'Rubromarginata'

clematis rubromarginata

(Image credit: Gary K Smith/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 5-8 (UK H4)
  • Height: 15ft (4.5m)
  • Pruning group: 3
  • Best for: Scent

A c. x triternata variety, this fabulous plant will romp along a fence or over a shed, coating it in star-shaped white and red-purple flowers from mid-summer to early fall.

The flowers release a delicious almond perfume that travels on the air. It's tolerant of a wide range of conditions, but as with most clematis varieties, does best in well-drained, retentive neutral to alkaline soil.

12. 'Blue Angel'

'Blue Angel' clematis

(Image credit: Joel Douillet/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H6) 
  • Height: 9ft (2.7m)
  • Pruning group: 3
  • Best for: Twilight color

A beautiful choice for cottage garden planting schemes, this viticella clematis has light mauve-blue flowers with a papery texture and yellow stamens throughout summer and early fall. 

The ghostly flowers glow in semi-shade and in the dim light of dusk. This is one of many excellent clematis cultivars bred by Brother Stefan Franczak, a monk and gardener based in Warsaw, Poland.

13. 'Apple Blossom'

'Apple Blossom' clematis

(Image credit: Jane Tansi/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 6-9 (UK H4)
  • Height: 20ft (6m)
  • Pruning group: 1
  • Best for: Evergreen foliage

This armandii variety has pale-pink flowers that fill the air with an incredible almond perfume in spring to early summer. 

The long, dark evergreen leaves provide dense coverage, but the plant will mass its growth at the top, so it is better for sending up over a pergola or garage than using it for screening. 

Grow in sheltered sun, and be aware that it's toxic to dogs.

14. 'Mayleen'

Clematis 'Mayleen'

(Image credit: McPhoto/Rolf Mueller/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 6-9 (UK H5)
  • Height: 26ft (8m)
  • Pruning group: 1
  • Best for: Training up a summer house

This mountain clematis is a joy in late spring to early summer, when its soft-pink flowers fill the air with a vanilla-clove scent. 

It's good for wildlife gardens as birds like to nest in the dense bronze foliage in summer. Over winter, the bare tangled mass of stems looks attractive. 

Being vigorous, it is ideal for covering a large structure such as a shed or summer house.

15. 'Purpurea Plena Elegans'

'Purpurea Plena Elegans' clematis

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  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H6)
  • Height: 10ft (3m)
  • Pruning group: 3
  • Best for: Vintage charm

Said to be the oldest cultivated form, bred in France over 200 years ago, this viticella has plenty of charm. 

From mid-summer to early autumn, it produces dusky wine-purple flowers that resemble ruffled silk rosettes. It's an ideal addition to a dark and moody garden color scheme.

16. 'Wesselton'

Clematis macropetala ‘Wesselton’

(Image credit: Anne Gilbert/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H6)
  • Height: 8ft (2.5m)
  • Pruning group: 1
  • Best for: Spring flowers

An adorable macropetala clematis that produces large pastel-blue blooms in spring, above green leaves.

The nodding blooms resemble upturned waterlilies and are followed by striking seed heads that hold on throughout summer. For laid-back garden schemes, try training it to scramble around small trees or shrubs.

17. 'Grandiflora'

Clematis Montana var. grandiflora

(Image credit: Faiz Balabil/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 6-9 (UK H4)
  • Height: 25-40ft (7.5m-12m)
  • Pruning group: 1
  • Best for: Vigorous growth

This large-flowering, snaking variety is ideal for brightening a shadier spot. It is a vigorous grower reaching great heights if planted in optimal conditions. 

It flaunts large white flowers through summer and is perfect for a north-facing wall which doesn't get a great deal of sun.

18. 'Picardy'

Clematis 'Picardy'

(Image credit: Martin Hughes-Jones/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H6)
  • Height: 3-4ft (90-120cm)
  • Pruning group: 3
  • Best for: Smaller spaces

Choose this beautiful deep purple variety for its repeat flowering and bold hue. Once the blooms are over, simply cut the stems back to 6in (15cm). Continue watering and feeding and you will find it re-flowers again.

Another plus point of this variety is its suitability for container gardening due to its smaller size.

What is the hardiest clematis?

For spring flowers in cold areas, opt for C. alpina or C. macropetala, which hail from mountainous regions. Both have pretty nodding flowers. 'Foxy' is a lovely pale-pink alpina variety, and 'Octopus' is a stunning claret form of macropetala. 

For summer flowers, both C. viticella and C. tangutica are reliably hardy. The wonderful viticella clematis varieties bloom in a wide range of colors. 'Abundance' is pink and 'Polish Spirit' is purple. Good forms of C. tangutica, such as 'Bill MacKenzie', have sun-yellow flowers in summer and early autumn, and they're also good plants for seed heads

Foxy clematis

'Foxy' is tolerant of cold temperatures and has an elegant aesthetic

(Image credit: Anne Gilbert/Alamy Stock Photo)

What are the longest flowering clematis?

For a long period of blooms in summer, Peter's favorite is lavender-blue 'Arabella', while Richard recommends the viticella varieties, such as pink-red 'Madame Julia Correvon'.