Sweet Autumn Clematis – Clematis Paniculata

Twelve years ago, when we moved to our present home, (all of 7 miles from our other place) this beautiful white flowering plant was given to me by a dear friend whom we affectionately call our “house angel.”  It’s a long story  — but in a nutshell — she found our current home for us.

I have three plants and suppose them to be — since our friend called them Autumn Clematis — Clematis Panticulata.  (Also said to be called Clematis terniflora by one of the catalog companies.)

My largest plant is in the garden border (shown below) and is not yet in full bloom.

In late winter I cut the vines back to about 12 inches.(It blooms on new growth.) I also prune them a couple of times in May and/or June, because I like to keep them shorter than they would grow if unsupervised. (15 to 30 feet I can’t handle.)

The one in my garden border is about 5 feet tall and a perfect contained drape because of my pruning.  In my front flower border I have a shorter 3 foot support for the vine.  It doesn’t need to be as tall as the one in the back, but I let it drape and run along the ground in front for another 3 feet for added effect. (Again – I prune it during May or June.)

Side view (above) of clematis paniculata in my front border.  View from the front is shown below.

All Clematis like cool roots and their foliage in the sun.  Mine get a little straw on them but it’s not thick at all. The foliage is lush from the time the leaves appear and it grows so quickly I think the vines must act as a mulch and keep the roots cool.

This plant always is spectacular when it blooms in August and September and I never give it any special care.  Even the two severe droughts in the 12 years we’ve lived at this location did not seem to bother them in any way.  The ones in the garden border live in richer soil than the one in the front border, but all perform the same.  The only time I pay attention to them is when I have to cut them and that takes a couple of chops with the hedge clippers and I’m done.

Picture below: White blooms and buds of Autumn Clematis paired with yellow flowers, summer poinsettia and tomato foliage. Next year I want to pair one of them with red clematis that blooms at the same time.

As with all Clematis, all parts of the plants are poisonous if ingested.  If I had horses I would not want to use it on a fence where they could possibly ingest it. Also, some experience a skin rash after handling the plant. (Wear gloves.)

Since it’s always been so well behaved for me, I was surprised to read that some folks say it will self seed and become invasive. Makes me wonder if they are talking about another species — or if I have the wrong species name for mine.  I’ve never had a problem, but if I did the answer to that would be to cut it back to 12 inches after bloom, thus not allowing it to seed. The beauty of this plant is certainly worth 5 minutes of extra time to keep it in check.

Another thing I enjoy about this vine is the nectar it provides for butterflies and bees.  It’s always enjoyable looking at the array of bees and butterflies this plant attracts.  A wonderful sight when it is a hum with all the nectar sippers and collectors.

Clematis Paniculata (Sweet Autumn Clematis) is worth your consideration.  Not only is its showy white bloom spectacular, but it will add structure and interest to any border or garden.


All content including pictures is copyrighted by  All rights are reserved.


  • Received a tip via email from Mrs. Hundley, ARS Master Rosarian, that I wanted to pass along to you. Here’s what she said after reading this post:

    “Lovely! Sweet Autumn Clematis can be a great compliment to a vase of roses, much prettier than Baby’s Breath.

    If you missed Mrs. Hundley’s quest posts on Floribunda Roses
    check them out beginning with the first:


  • I’ve been searching for the name of a flower that blossoms in Vancouver, BC MID-SPRING. By all accounts, it looks and seems like it smells like Clematis Paniculata / Sweet Autumn Clematis – EXCEPT for the bloom date discrepancy of Spring vs. Fall. Anybody have any ideas? Much appreciated. Kia

  • Hi Kia,

    Sure not familiar with the flower you are describing. If you find out, let us know. I’ll do the same.


  • Theresa,
    If I had the extra money when I would go to one of the local nurseries I would always let whichever child that was with me pick a flower/shrub etc to add to our garden.

    One time our youngest daughter chose a Cleome.

    It our surprise a Sweet Autumn Clematis grew from the same spot as the Cleome!

    It was breath-taking when in bloom.

    I did not transplant it when we moved. Do you think it would live if I tried to transplant it now?

  • Yes, Betty, you have an excellent chance with transplanting Sweet Autumn Clematis. I have transplanted many and they’ve always done fine.

  • its my understanding that there is a difference in the clematis paniculata and the sweet autumn clematis, that being the sweet autumn has tentacles that cause it to cling to the surface where it grows and the paniculata has to be trained onto a surface because it has no such tentacles. i have grown the paniculata for years and this has been my experience as well.

  • Hi there

    We live in Arlington and just bought a house about five miles away. We’ve lived here for 13 years and I have a 30 year old paniculata. I hedge it way back each year in March and every year it grows about 30 feet and grows like crazy. It has big thick bark. I would be heartbroken to leave it. Do you have thoughts about transplanting it?

  • Sarah, I’ll bet that plant is GORGEOUS when in bloom. And yes, I agree that it would be heartbreaking to leave it.

    Many times, small plants will come up around the base of the parent plant. When you dig to take up the parent you may find that to be true. If so, those small plants have a great change of taking root when you transplant. That could be your back up just in case the older plant doesn’t make it.

    I think I’d also try to plant the older plant in a location at the new property that will have the same amount of shade and/or sunlight as the current location does. And of course, prepare the planting hole well.

    These are pretty hardy plants and yours might just love its new home!
    Good luck with it. Let me know what happens.


  • I grow from seed a four star white flowered clematis that grows to a big shrub but dies back each winter to new growth. I moved from UK 4 years ago and took may garden with me. This plant went mad to 10 feet and only half dies back. In Spring it reached 10 x6 feet against my rose tunnel. Winters here can drop to 36 c below but summers are hot and dry. I wonder if my clematis is a Ternifolia or Panicular type that should reach over the arches. Where can seeds of the great large growers be found?

  • Sorry I have no information on where seeds of the great large growers can be found.
    Good luck with your search.

  • Hi

    I have an autumn clematis that was just started to put out it green growth. My not nice neighbor likes to hack it so I decided to move it onto a brand new trellis. It is all wilted now. It usually grows on the old wood right? Should I cut off the green back to the wood and let it regrow green?

    Thank YOu

  • Tracey, if you moved your autumn clematis from one place to another, that could cause it to wilt from transplant shock. I assume you watered it in after moving it. So it should make a come back without any additional care.
    If you want to cut it back you can, but since you indicated green growth was just starting — you can
    do nothing if you want.

    Autumn clematis is hard to kill. I think you’ll be fine.

Leave a Comment