This is one of Brother Stefan's finest creations, a superb choice for beginning Clematis gardeners.

Polish Spirit Clematis

Trade Gallon
Item # 43614
Buy 3+ at $23.95 ea
Buy 6+ at $22.95 ea
Item is sold out.

Clematis 'Polish Spirit'

Winner of the coveted Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticulture Society.
Masses and masses of wide-open 3-inch blooms of velvety violet-blue cover this vigorous climber for 6 weeks or more beginning in midsummer and continuing in to fall. Grown by the late, great Clematarian Brother Stefan Franczak and introduced by Raymond J. Evison, it is one of the most prolific and exciting of large late-flowered varieties, as well as one of the most beautiful!

The International Clematis Society lists 'Polish Spirit' as a variety ideal for beginning Clematis gardeners, and it's easy to see why. Few others are as eager to grow and determined to bloom. 'Polish Spirit' takes off like crazy and never looks back, making it a terrific choice to grow up and through a climbing rose, across a fence, or over a wall. Plan for a big show of blooms every year -- you won't be disappointed!

The flowers are at least 3 inches wide (many, especially in early season, are more like 4 inches), very velvety and intensely colored, and held wide open like a pinwheel, with a center composed of white filaments and purplish-rosy anthers. They stand out in any setting, but grow them up a gold-leafed tree or shrub, and you simply won't believe how they "pop"!

'Polish Spirit' is believed to be a C. viticella cultivar, but its parentage is uncertain. It was spotted by Raymond J. Evison growing in Brother Stefan's monastery garden in Warsaw in 1984. Brother Stefan gave the seedling to Evison, who introduced it in 1990, naming it for the indomitable spirit he had observed in the Polish people living under the Soviet Union's control. It won the Award of Garden Merit just 3 years later, and has been a garden favorite ever since.

Expect 'Polish Spirit' to reach 8 to 10 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide. It flowers on new wood, so follow the pruning instructions for Group III and it will flourish for decades to come in your garden. Highly recommended. Pruning Group III. Zones 4-9

Genus Clematis
Variety 'Polish Spirit'
Item Form Trade Gallon
Zone 4 - 9
Bloom Season Mid Summer - Early Fall
Clematis Pruning Group Group 3
Habit Vining
Plant Height 8 ft - 10 ft
Additional Characteristics Award Winner, Butterfly Lovers, Flower, Long Bloomers, Free Bloomer, Hummingbird Lovers, Pruning Recommended, Rose Companions
Bloom Color Dark Purple, Dark Blue
Foliage Color Dark Green
Light Requirements Full Sun
Moisture Requirements Moist,  well-drained
Resistance Bacterial Wilt, Cold Hardy, Disease Resistant, Heat Tolerant, Pest Resistant
Soil Tolerance Normal,  loamy
Uses Border, Foliage Interest, Outdoor, Vines and Climbers
Restrictions Canada, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam
Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Average Based on 2 Reviews Write a Review
So Beautiful and a Fast Grower
Janet M from NJ wrote (September 17, 2012):
Enjoyed seeing our first time clematis grow in NJ. Planted in fall 2011 upon arrival and the plant grew and blossomed in 2012. So enjoyable seeing it grow and spread in spring reaching for the sun and then bloom in the summer and continue to bloom into September. We took off the blooms as they died off and it keeps blooming here in NJ. A few blooms still as of September 16. Even the green leaves are pretty. Stayed well during the very hot July month we had.
One of the Best
Cheri from MI wrote (March 26, 2012):
Being Polish, I couldn't resist Polish Spirit when I saw the name, despite not knowing exactly what I was getting. It has been a wonderful surprise. It is a hearty bloomer, with many gorgeous, deep purplish flowers. Each year it seems to be bigger and better.

The Late Bloomers
Unlike other types of Clematis, Group 3 blooms on "new wood" (which means the current season's growth; if you keep last year's flowering stems on the plant, they won't set buds). So, unless you live in a climate where your Clematis naturally dies back to the ground in winter, you must prepare yourself to whack off all the old stems in late winter/early spring down to about a foot from the ground, just above the place where the new season's growth begins.

"Forget it!" I hear you cry, remembering how you patiently helped your Clematis twine up the mailbox post last spring and were rewarded with a bloom show like none you'd ever experienced before in your life. I know; it seems harsh, especially for those of us in the south, who aren't used to plants that die back completely, then pop up again in spring more vigorous than ever. But if you'll take my word and remove all the old growth until you're left with a couple of stems about 12 inches from the ground, you won't be sorry. Look for the place where the stem changes color a bit — that will be where last season's growth began. Leave just an inch or two of that new color, cutting away the rest.

Once you know your Clematis's pruning number and get that first-year trim out of the way, keeping this woody climber looking its best and blooming like crazy is simple! A few minutes once a year will yield you armloads of flowers for many seasons, and you will continue to find new uses for Clematis, from hiding an unsightly fence to decorating your most formal garden art!

Shop Clematis Time to Prune? Group 1 Group 2
  • Butterflies like a lot of sunlight, so locate your garden in a sunny area.

  • If you live in a windy location, plant your butterfly-attracting plants near a building, fence, or hedge to protect them.

  • Plant a variety of nectar-rich plants, as well as shrubs and evergreens for shelter.

  • Since many butterflies and native flowering plants have co-evolved, try to put in some that are native to your area. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center provides lists of plants native to states and regions.

  • Certain colors are particularly attracting to butterflies – red, yellow, pink, purple, or orange blooms that are clustered or flat-topped, with a short flower tubes are especially attractive to adult butterflies.

  • Avoid using pesticides, especially around nectar-producing plants.

  • Provide a shallow source of water – try a birdbath with pebbles lining the bowl.

  • Place a rock in a sunny spot for butterfly basking and resting.

  • Create a "puddling area" by digging a shallow hole filled with compost or manure where rainwater will collect and release essential salts and minerals.

  • If you want butterflies to breed in your garden, put in some caterpillar food plants, such as parsley, milkweeds, asters, thistles, violets, clover, grasses, and Queen Anne’s Lace.

  • Since butterflies need nectar throughout the entire adult phase of their lives, try to create a design that will allow for a continuous bloom – when one stops blooming, another starts.

Set out plants immediately upon receipt spacing widely to allow for ultimate growth and spread. A rich, loose, well-drained soil that has been enriched is ideal; soil should be porous to allow for free run of the roots.

The rule of thumb is that clematis prefer shade at the roots (this can be provided by low growing plants or a cooling mulch), and sun at the tops. For this reason they do well interplanted among trees and shrubs, through which they easily grow. When planting, set a stake next to the plant for support.


Water during periods of drought. Do not be discouraged if top growth is slow to appear; the roots must establish themselves before top growth occurs. For pruning purposes, Clematis can be divided into 3 groups. The first group blooms in the spring from buds set the previous season. Prune, when needed, after bloom. The second group blooms in early summer on short stems that come from buds set the previous season.

In March, remove dead wood and cut the remaining stems back to a pair of strong buds. The third group blooms on new growth. Therefore, prune all stems back to 12 inches from the ground each year in March. We also recommend a winter mulch. They also respond well to a topdressing of well aged manure or rich compost, preferably applied twice a year.


Zones various

Get the Best Blooms from your Clematis

You’ll find Clematis pruning groups for your specific variety listed in the descriptions in our catalog and online. Follow the pruning guidelines below to get the best bloom show out of your Clematis.

Clematis Pruning Guide

Group I:

(Bloom in early spring from buds set the previous season on old wood; doesn’t die back in winter)

Prune only when needed, after bloom in spring.

Group II:

(Usually includes rebloomers that produce flowers on old wood in late spring/early summer and often bloom again on new wood in late summer or fall)

In March, remove dead wood and cut the remaining stems 6 to 8 inches to a pair of strong buds.

Group III:

(Bloom on new wood in the summer and fall; dies to the ground over winter)

Each year in March, prune all stems back to a strong set of buds 12 inches from the ground.