Evergreen Clematis (Clematis armandii)

Armand Clematis, Evergreen Clematis

Armand clematis is an evergreen vine named after Father Armand David, a plant collector in China. This plant is regarded as a garden ornamental thanks to its showy white flowers. When in bloom, these flowers attract hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. 

I. Appearance and Characteristics 

Clematis armandii (also called Armand clematis or evergreen clematis) is a flowering climbing plant of the genus Clematis. Like many members of that genus, it is prized by gardeners for its showy flowers. It is native to much of China (except the north and extreme south) and northern Burma. The plant is a woody perennial. It attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

‘Clematis’ is the Greek name for several climbing plants, and is a diminutive of ‘klema’ means ‘vine shoot’.

Named for Father Armand David (1826-1900), a Jesuit missionary and plant collector in China.

C. armandii bears fragrant 2.5-inch white flowers in spring on the previous year’s growth. Its dark green leaves droop to create a textured look, and it serves well as a screen. It may grow to a height of 20 feet. Its leaf tips may burn badly if grown in salty soil or water. In the USA it grows best in American Horticultural Society zones 9 to 7, which are generally found in the southern USA.

Cultivars include the pink-flowered ‘Hendersonii Rubra’ as well as ‘Apple Blossom’ and ‘Snowdrift’. ‘Apple Blossom’ is a recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

The armandii clematis plant may be toxic to dogs if ingested. 

Be careful about the location you plant them in, using measures to keep dogs away if you have them.

II. How to Grow and Care

Sunlight

If you live in the USDA zones 7-9, the plants are pretty hardy and grow well in full sun. But these plants prefer having their head in a sunny location with their roots cool in the shade. As mentioned, add a layer of mulch or some flat stones at the plant’s base to provide partial shade on hot days.

If you live in arid climates, protect them from drying winds.

Temperature and Humidity

As the evergreen Clematis falls into group 1, it does not need much protection from the winters and can tolerate temperatures down to 14°F. But it can still get damaged by frost and have occasional stem dieback.

Watering

Armand clematis likes a moist environment without accumulated water. It is recommended that you place your finger into the soil to feel how moist it is. Water thoroughly if the soil is dry. If your armand clematis is in a pot, water slowly and stop watering when excess water flows out of the drain hole at the bottom of the pot. Remember to pour out any excess water from the flower pot’s saucer, or put a few pebbles in the saucer to ensure good drainage.

Armand clematis grows rapidly during the spring, when it requires a large amount of water. Watering should be done according to the dryness of the area and the weather conditions. In rainy areas or during rainy weather, pay attention to promptly drain any accumulated water to prevent the roots of armand clematis rotting.

Soil

Armand clematis likes fertile, well-drained, neutral soils with a pH in the range of 6 to 7.5. Armand clematis is not resistant to accumulated water or drought and can lose water easily. Generally, peat soil, pearl soil, vermiculite, and pine bark can be mixed and used as a suitable soil for planting. The mixed soil should be loose, aerated, permeable, moist, and nutritious.

If grown in a pot, organic fertilizer or slow-release fertilizer can be used as a base fertilizer. If armand clematis is planted in the garden, it is advised to use organic fertilizer and bone meal as a base fertilizer, with garden soil, humus soil, and coarse-grained medium used to increase the drainage and ventilation capacity of the soil.

Fertilizing

The amount of fertilizer provided should be determined by the size of a armand clematis. During the growth period and after flowering, nitrogen fertilizer should be provided. Between the time flower buds appear to when they bloom, phosphate fertilizer should be provided. Potassium fertilizer is indispensable and should be provided at all times. It is recommended that only a small amount of fertilizer, at a low concentration, be applied. You can fertilize it several times with fertilizer diluted with water.

During dormancy, the leaves of armand clematis will wither. At this time, some organic fertilizer (bone meal or manure) can be added and dug into the soil at a shallow depth. It is also a good idea to cover the surface of the soil with compost to increase the nutrient level and prevent frost from freezing the roots.

Planting Instructions

The most desirable season for planting Clematis armandii is spring, but it can also be done in fall if winter is mild in your area.

The golden rule with Clematis armandii is that the foot of the plant should stay in the shade while the head basks in the sun. If the base is in direct sun,  then cover it with for example an old tile or a few odd rocks.

  • Clematis armandii vine blooming with white five-petaled flowers along a lattice of crisscrossing wood.Place the foot of the plant about 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) from the lattice or structure you expect it to climb along.
  • Dig a hole more or less 16 inches (40 cm) in diameter.
  • Lean the young seedling towards the wall or lattice that is will hang from later on.
  • Backfill the hole with a blend of soil mix and heath soil. If the soil is very heavy, add in ⅓ river sand.
  • Fertilize the plant right at the moment of planting with a little compost or dehydrated manure: this will allow for stronger growth.

Pruning

Armand clematis can be pruned before it flowers or between late winter and early spring. Before flowering, remove any withered or weak branches to avoid excessive nutrient consumption. For better nutrient concentration and more attractive flowers, it is also advised to selectively prune some branches, even if they are growing well. Try to avoid too much pruning in summer, because in hot weather having more leaves can promote evapotranspiration and maintain normal water circulation in armand clematis.

In the late winter and early spring, heavy pruning of armand clematis, especially for late-blooming varieties, can stimulate the growth of new branches, make armand clematis grow better, and result in a better shape the following year. For example, prune it to one-third of its original height. For early-blooming varieties, it is not recommended to prune too much.

It is recommended that half of the branches are pruned, leaving only thick ones behind. After being pruned like this, armand clematis will have a longer blooming season, and the number of flowers will increase year by year with the increasing number of branches. The above method can be applied to all varieties of armand clematis, including those you are unsure about how to prune.

After pruning, armand clematis tends to end its dormancy period and start growing. If the weather is not suitable for the growth of new branches, it is recommended to wait before pruning.

Propagation

As the Clematis is an evergreen, it grows from the previous year’s wood and propagates through layering the semi or hardwood cuttings.

You can take cuttings in early spring for semi-hardwood cuttings. Or take some hardwood cuttings in late spring to summer.

Then plant them in well-drained soil in a sunny location living in a coastal climate or part shade in a hot climate.

Pests and Diseases

The C. armandii is not bothered by diseases much, but they do become food for hungry critters. Still, it helps to keep an eye out for slugs, aphids, and caterpillars. You can remove them manually from the plants and treat them with a herbicide.

III. Uses and Benefits 

Evergreen armandii Clematis is given this name as they are planted outdoors all year long. 

The dark green leaves remain luscious with white flowers emerging in the bloom season.

  • They are best suited for sunny garden locations where they have the support to climb.
  • Plant them along wall borders, twining them on a trellis, along pergola legs, plinths, and other structures outdoors. 
  • The blooms on this evergreen vine attracts bees and hummingbirds, so add them to pollinator gardens as well.
  • They are not suited for potting or as a groundcover.

IV. Harvesting and Storage

Armand clematis has very beautiful flowers, which can be cut to use as part of a bouquet, or to decorate dining tables or rooms. Choose flowers at different stages of openness according to your flower arrangement requirements. It is recommended to choose half-open or nearly open flowers, which look lovely and have a long vase life. On the day of harvesting, use a sharp knife to obliquely cut the end of the stem and then promptly insert it into clean water in a vase. To extend its vase life, keep it out of direct sunlight, as this will make the flower wither faster.

If you want to harvest seeds of armand clematis for reproduction, ensure that the seeds are already mature. Generally, seeds mature from late summer to midwinter, and it is recommended they are collected before the fruit becomes dark brown. If seeds are over-mature, they will enter dormancy, which will lead to late germination once they are planted.

Evergreen Clematis (Clematis armandii) Details

Common name Armand Clematis, Evergreen Clematis
Botanical name Clematis armandii
Plant type Perennial
Hardiness zone 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
Growth rate Fast
Harvest time Summer
Height 15 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
Width 15 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
Sunlight Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
Soil condition Clay
Flower color Pink
Leaf color Brown/Copper