Learn Clematis Virginiana Care Tips

The Clematis Virginiana [KLEM-uh-tiss, Vir-jin-ee-AN-uh] is a woody vine from the Buttercup family Ranunculaceae along with:

It is native to North America, from southern Manitoba to Mexico. 

White blooms of Clematis virginiana
R. A. Nonenmacher [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This plant is more commonly found in western and northern Illinois, in comparison to other parts of the United States. 

Habitats of Clematis Virginiana L. var. Missouriensis (syn) include riverbanks, drainage ditches slops, moist meadows, woodlands edges, along fence rows, and railroads. 

It is often cultivated as an ornamental plant, along with Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis Terniflora), Old Man’s Beard (Clematis Vitalba).

The common names of this plant include:

  • Woodbine
  • Wild Hops
  • Virginia Virgin’s Bower
  • Virgin’s Bower
  • Love Vine
  • Devil’s Hair
  • Devil’s Darning Needles

Clematis Virginiana Plant Care

Size & Growth

This plant grows up to 20’ feet high. 

The stems are dull red or green initially and turn woody and brown as the plant matures. 

The leaf stalk usually twines around the fences, and neighboring vegetations for support since the stem lacks tendrils.

The leaves of this plant grow up to 3” inches wide and 4” inches long. 

They are often shallowly lobed or cleft, with pointed tips and toothed edges. 

The base is heart-shaped, and the stalk is hairy and short.

Flowering and Fragrance

The Virgin’s Bower produces clusters of stalked white flowers rising from the leaf axils. 

These white flowers form four petal-like sepals and are about 1” inch long. 

Separate female and male wildflowers grow on different plants.

The male flowers have many spreading stamens in the center, are white with creamy tips. 

On the other hand, the female pistillate flowers have various greenish pistils growing in the center and might have some sterile stamens in the surrounding.

The bloom time of this “autumn clematis” is August to October.

Light & Temperature

The native wild Clematis vine isn’t too fussy and thrives in both the full sun and part shade. 

However, place this plant under full or partial shade when the light is too bright and intense. 

Otherwise, the leaves will start to fade.

These plants are hardy to USDA Hardiness Zones 3 through 8.

Watering and Feeding

This perennial vine has medium water needs but requires regular watering during dry weather. 

Be sure to maintain some soil moisture for optimal growth.

Fertilize this plant during the spring season with a fertilizer with low nitrogen content.

Soil & Transplanting

Virginiana prefers rich, moist soil.

Make sure you provide this plant with a neutral or acidic soil with a pH level between 5.0 and 6.8.

Grooming and Maintenance

The Devil’s Darning Needles will initially require some support. 

Spread the shoots as wide as possible on the trellis to achieve ideal coverage.

Prune the vine regularly to encourage ideal growth and flowering.  

Otherwise, you might end up with tangled stems and little foliage.   

How to Propagate Virgin’s Bower Plant

The propagation of this plant is done using seeds and stem cuttings. 

However, if you sow the seeds in a cold frame or indoors, then it results in higher germination as compared to planting them outdoors directly.  

When growing through stem cuttings, make sure to include at least two sets of leaves and take the cuttings during the growing season of the plant.

The seed collection must be done during the fall season. 

You should start collecting the seeds when the feathery achenes turn dark brown. 

The seed heads typically persist for several months but make sure you store them in a dry place in a sealed container.

Virgin’s Bower Plant Pest or Diseases

The Virgin’s Bower is mostly a trouble-free plant once it is established. 

However, it might experience periodic damage from typical pests, including:

  • Snails and slugs
  • Spider mites
  • Whiteflies
  • Earwigs
  • Aphids 

The deer usually leave this plant alone, but rabbits tend to enjoy nibbling on the newly sprouted shoots.

This plant is susceptible to native clematis wilt and powdery mildew

The plant is more likely to get infected by the mildew when placed in an area with poor circulation. 

Therefore, make sure to provide this plant with good air circulation.

Clematis wilt is a serious fungal disease problem. If you notice your Clematis vines shrivel or droop it is probably Clematis wilt.

It might result in the sudden collapse of an entire vine or a particular portion of it. 

It is a severe problem as the leaves and stems of the plant start turning black and dies soon after the collapse. 

To prevent it, you must cut off all the affected stems and destroy each diseased part of the plant.

If the whole plant dies, do not try growing another clematis on that location.

Is This Plant Toxic or Poisonous?

All parts of this plant are poisonous. 

It might cause severe mouth pain if consumed, and skin irritation if inhaled or touched. 

The symptoms include burning sensation in the mouth, redness, and itchiness on the skin.

Is This Plant Invasive?

These plants might become a bit invasive if left unmaintained.

Clematis Virginiana Plant Uses

This plant looks stunning in woodland areas where it is allowed to scramble along the fences and ground, and over the shrubs. 

Grow it on garden posts, arbors, or trellises. 

It attracts pollinators like hummingbirds and butterflies.