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Native Plant of the Week: Virgin's Bower

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

Family: Ranunculaceae

Name: Clematis virginiana - Virgin's Bower

Bloom Time: July - September

Flower: White

Soil Condition: Dry, Average, Moist

Light: Sun, Partial Shade, Shade

Height: 15-20' tall by 3-12' wide

Native Range: Eastern North America including Long Island

Zone: 3 to 9

Clematis virginiana is fast growing vine with showy, fragrant flowers and fluffy seed heads (female only). It is very useful to hide wire fences as it lacks tendrils and curls its leaf stems to support itself. The scrambling nature is also attractive when left to hang over a wall or scramble down a hillside. You may choose to cut it back in April or let it go naturally to create nesting sites for birds. Plant is poisonous to humans if eaten and may cause skin irritation. Often confused with the invasive Clematis terniflora aka Clematis paniculata. It is easy to identify. The native Clematis has sharply toothed leaves as opposed to the round leaves of the invasive varieties.

Fun Fact: Another common name is 'Old Man's Beard' because of the bushy 'whiskers' of the seed heads.

Maintenance: Cut back to 12" in April to encourage fuller plants, may be pruned at any time during the growing season, susceptible to powdery mildew

Benefits: deer and rabbit resistant, tolerates shade and juglone (Black Walnut), birds use the seed heads for nest building, nectar source, pollinators

Companion Plants: Allium cernuum - nodding onion

pictures: buds, flowers, seed head (KMS Native Plants LLC)




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