Clematis Betty Corning

Clematis 'Betty Corning'

Clematis viticella 'Betty Corning'


One of the most beautiful Clematis ever introduced, 'Betty Corning' begins the bloom season in early summer with dozens upon dozens of smoky violet-blue, bell-shaped blooms about 2 inches across. Sweetly fragrant, they dangle from trellises, arbors, and pergolas, or peek through the branches of open-habit shrubs, wend their way through fences, and enliven mailboxes, lampposts, and other vertical supports. Very heavy blooming through early fall, 'Betty Corning' is a must-have for the sunny garden!

Introduced in 1932, 'Betty Corning' is an heirloom to be treasured. The new spring foliage is often tinted bronze, extending the seasons of interest for this Clematis. The blooms are deeply veined on climbing plants reaching 5 to 6 feet high, and are among the most fragrant of any Clematis. The bloom power, fragrance, lovely flower form, and exceptional resistance to both cold and heat earned 'Betty Corning' a Gold Medal from the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society.

Like most Clematis, it likes cool roots and warm tops, so mulch around its base very heavily and let it grow up in full sun or part shade. Somewhat drought tolerant, it is a very tenacious and dependable Clematis. Zones 4-9. Pruning Group III.

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!

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