Sweet Autumn Clematis
Sweet autumn clematis is a vigorous vine that's been planted in the South for years.
It can be trained up trellises, fences, and pergolas, creating an almost-evergreen screen that will explode each autumn with billowy clouds of white, fragrant, star-like flowers. Even in winter, the vine puts on a show, thanks to the silvery, plumed seeds that mature after the flowers fade.
Despite its attractive qualities, sweet autumn clematis has some drawbacks, namely that it's invasive.
The Florida Exotic Plant Council lists this vine as a Category II invasive species in Central and North Florida. This is defined as "Invasive exotics that have increased in abundance or frequency but have not yet altered Florida plant communities to the extent shown by Category I species. These species may become ranked Category I, if ecological damage is demonstrated." The UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas does not list sweet autumn clematis as invasive.
Be sure to check locally in your area before planting to insure that sweet autumn clematis is not invasive where you live. If you determined to grow this strong-willed vine (or it's already growing in your landscape), be sure to keep an eye on it so that it doesn't get out of hand and invade other parts of your garden or natural areas.
There is a native alternative, Clematis virginiana, but it can be difficult to find. Making it even more difficult is that both the invasive and native vines are often sold under the same common name, sweet autumn clematis. One way to tell the difference is that the native clematis has serrated (jagged) leaf edges, whereas the invasive clematis has smooth leaf edges.
- Center for Invasive and Aquatic Plants: Japanese Clematis, Clematis terniflora
- UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas: Clematis terniflora