Discover sweet autumn blooms

Q: I saw a white blooming vine that smelled divine and was blooming in October. What is it? How can I grow one?

• Diana from


A: Just when you thought there wasn’t much to enjoy in your garden as summer becomes fall, along comes Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis virginiana). There is an invasive version (Clematis terniflora), which should be avoided.

I have this sweetly honey vanilla scented climber with masses of starry white flowers blooming late summer through fall planted throughout my landscape. After blooming they become a mass of attractive plume like seed heads that can become an issue, but when properly maintained this vine can be a standout in your landscape.

Like all clematis, sweet autumn is a heavy feeder. By applying a low-nitrogen fertilizer, such as 5-10-10 in spring, you’ll give your vine a good start at reaching heights of 20 feet. Re-apply this fertilizer every few weeks through the growing season. This deciduous twining vine, hardy to zone 4, loves a support it can latch on to such as pergolas, arbors, bird house poles and chain link fences.

It prefers well-drained soil and cool feet, so keep the soil at its base mulched or shaded.

Sweet autumn clematis blooms on the current year’s growth. Prune it hard after flowering is complete in the late fall. Pruning in fall rather than early spring will remove the seed heads that can cause the plant to spread invasively. You can cut the plant down to a foot or so from the ground, but if you’d like to give your vines a head start allowing them to reach their maximum height, prune them less severely by leaving more of the old vine in place.

For more on this plant, go to: http://go.osu.edu/au tumnclematis.

Pam Baytos is an OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer in Mahoning County. Call 330-533-5538 to submit your questions. Live clinic hours are 10 a.m. to noon on Thursdays or visit zoom at go.osu.edu/virtual clinic.


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