Winter-blooming clematis, Clematis cirrhosa

Clematis cirrhosa in flower4 Clematis cirrhosa in flower5

One of the real joys of the winter gardening season is the Mediterranean native Clematis cirrhosa.  Here is how it looks today, draped across the railing on our house deck.  Clematis cirrhosa blooms from now until early spring, so you will often find the flowers completely encased in snow or ice…pretty amazing!  Did you know that clematis and hellebores are first cousins?  They are both members of the Ranunculus (buttercup) family Can you see the resemblance in the flowers?  I can’t imagine anyone in Zone 7 and south who doesn’t grow this in their garden.

10 thoughts on “Winter-blooming clematis, Clematis cirrhosa”

  1. I’m glad you said this is a cousin of the hellebore because the first thing I thought when I saw this was “This looks like a hellebore!” Of course, it’s beautiful, too!

  2. Ditto what Beth said! As I looked at the photo, I thought both the flowers and the leaves were reminiscent of hellebores. Cool to read further on and find out it wasn’t just because I was eagerly checking all my hellebores this morning looking for early blooms!

    I want this vine! Good to know about the sunny western exposure. What type of soil, pH, moisture does it want?

    1. We haven’t found Clematis cirrhosa particular about soil. Our soil in the garden is slightly acidic, but where I saw it growing in the wild in Crete, it was on alkaline rocky soils. We’ve grown it with south and western exposure to a few hours of sun where it thrived. The rains in Crete are less than 12″ annually, so drought tolerance is excellent. Clematis cirrhosa is summer dormant (i.e. it looks dead then), so site it accordingly.

      1. Is there a summer-blooming, winter-dormant perennial vine with sufficient foliage to camouflage this in warm weather and then die back gracefully enough to allow this one to shine in the winter? If so, which would you plant first?? Or would I be better off with a simple annual, like a Morning Glory or Moonflower?

  3. I wonder if you know of anyone who has trialed this in the most northern limits of zone 7 and into zone 6. Would it perhaps be more or less cold hardy than C. armandii?

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