Since I featured a list of purple clematis in my last article, Color of the Year 2014, I thought it would be fitting to feature one of my favorite ones: Clematis ‘Aotearoa’. There has not been a lot written about this great clematis which is quite surprising to me considering how fabulous it is. As with other viticellas, it is a very dependable bloomer, but what makes this New Zealand clematis unique is its large flowers have interesting-looking , twisted, pointed tepals. This affectation really gives it an attractive advantage over other varieties. ‘Aotearoa’ really does deserve more publicity and I know if you plant one in your garden you will be singing its praises along with me.
The flower’s tepals are colored a deep, velvety-purple. Most viticellas are blessed with flowers reaching 2 to 4 inches in diameter, but this beauty can generate ones that can be as large as 5 inches across. Its stamens are colored yellow. In USDA Zones 4 thru 9, this late season bloomer may repeat, but in USDA Zones 10 & 11 it blooms early in the season before it repeats. Growing to a height of 7 to 9 ft., it is a very vigorous and free flowering clematis, making it an excellent choice for a tall obelisk. Thriving equally well in sun or shade, this proven winner can be pruned hard or optionally.
C. ‘Aotearoa’ was raised by Alister Keay from a chance seedling. He introduced it around 1992. Aotearoa is the word the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maoris, use for their country. It means “land of the long white cloud”.