Fragrant Clematis

Perfume bottle with two Clematis crispa

Pictured above are two of my Clematis crispa blooms which are purported to be mildly fragrant.  However, the only way I can behold the delicate, sweet fragrance is for me to get up close and personal with this little cutie.

Over the years I have been asked if there are any “fragrant clematis”?  Just as with our other four human senses, smell is a highly subjective experience.  So, whether or not it is a “good” or pleasant fragrance depends on the opinion of the individual doing the smelling.  I once asked clematarian Wim Snoeijer about this very subject and he put it most fittingly, “Quite a tricky business, fragrance is so personal and depends also on the conditions like time of the day, moisture etc.

A major factor to consider when looking for fragrance in your clematis is in which USDA Zone you live, because winter chill can have an impact on whether a plant will bloom at all and/or with a fragrance.  A prime example is clematis in the Montana Group which need the cold spells encountered in the frost-free USDA Zones 7-9.

If you have plenty of room in your garden (it gets quite big) you might want to try growing probably the most well-known fragrant clematis, Sweet Autumn (Clematis terniflora), which is sometimes still being sold as Clematis paniculata.   Even though C. ‘Betty Corning’ (which prospers in USDA Zones 4-11) is boasted to have a delicate perfume that fills the air, after years of holding on to the hope of experiencing its full fragrance, I have yet to observe it totally in my garden.  All I have been rewarded with is the tiniest whiff and only after sticking my nose right into the inside of the flower.  Until this year, when, for the very first time in fifteen years I could actually smell it when it was in full bloom.  To be honest, when I was in my backyard and I first noticed its delicate fragrance I thought it must have been one of my roses.  Boy was I completely surprised when I realized it was good old “Betty”!  I can only speculate why it finally graced me with its remarkable scent.  Maybe it was due to this year’s unseasonably cold winter.  So, I am not going to hold my breath for it to happen again anytime soon, but it would really be nice if it would do it without the cold weather.  

In case you live in a part of the country that does not get a winter chill and if you really want a heady fragrance from a clematis why not just grow a rose nearby and pretend its glorious fragrance is being produced by your clematis.  Oh, I know that is cheating, but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.

Below are listed the clematis that I could find that are supposed to have some type of fragrance:

Armandii Group

C. ‘Apple Blossom’

C. ‘Bowl of Beauty’

C. ‘Little White Charm’

C. armandii

Campanella Group

C. ‘Bells of Emei Shan’ (syn. Clematis repens Hort.)

C. aethusifolia

C. connata

C. rehderiana

C. veitchiana

Cirrhosa Group

C. ‘Freckles’

C. ‘Jingle Bells’

C. ‘Wisely Cream’

C. cirrhosa balearica

C. napaulensis

C. williamsii

Diversifolia Group

C. ‘Fascination’

C. ‘Hendryetta’

C. ‘Jan Fopma


Flammula Group

C. ‘Aromatica’

C. ‘Pamela’

C. ‘Triternata Rubromarginata’

C. ‘Velvet Night’

C. angustifolia

C. flammula


C. recta

C. recta ‘Purpurea’

C. terniflora

C. terniflora ‘Robusta’ 

Forsteri Group (only male flowers are fragrant)

C. ‘Joe’

C. ‘Lunar Lass’

C. ‘Pixie’

C. ‘White Abundance’

C. afoliata

C. forsteri

C. glycinoides

C. paniculata

Heracleifolia Group

C. ‘Cote d’Azur’

C. ‘Crepuscule’

C. ‘Eclipse’

C. ‘Edward Prichard’

C. ‘I Am Stanislaus’

C. ‘Jasper’ 

C. ‘Jouiniana Praecox’

C. ‘Marinka’

C. ‘Mrs Robert Brydon’

C. ‘New Love’

C. ‘Sander’

C. ‘Stanislaus’

C. ‘Wyevale’

C. stans

Montana Group

C. ‘Alba’

C. ‘Continuity’

C. ‘East Malling’

C. ‘Elizabeth’

C. ‘Elten’

C. ‘Fragrant Spring’

C. ‘Freda’

C. ‘Gothenburg’

C. ‘Grandiflora’

C. ‘Hidcote’

C. ‘Mayleen’

C. ‘New Dawn’

C. ‘Odorata’

C. ‘Olga’

C. ‘Peveril’

C. ‘Pink Perfection’

C. ‘Rubens’

C. ‘Sir Eric Savill’

C. ‘Superba’

C. ‘Tetrarose’

C. ‘Veitch’

C. ‘Vera’

C. gracilifolia

C. montana

C. montana var. wilsonii

Patens Group

C. ‘Fair Rosamond’

Tangutica Group

C. ‘Buckland Cascade’

C. ‘Mongolian Gold’

Viticella Group

C. ‘Betty Corning’

Vitalba Group

C. ‘Paul Farges’

C. apiifolia

C. ligusticifolia

C. potaninii

C. trichotoma

C. virginiana

C. vitalba