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Clematis viorna – Leather flower

Clematis viorna, leather flower or vasevine, is a vine native to the Southeastern United States. The flowers of the specimen I photographed are colored a rich burgundy wine, but there is considerable variety in colors depending on where the seeds were harvested. The sepals range in color from lavender to pink to violet. What we consider petals on clematis are actually sepals.

The cultivar photographed here is ‘Groometown Garnet’.

The nodding flowers are small, 1″-2″ long. Clematis viorna has blooms that are somewhat leathery in texture, thus the common name ‘leather flower’. Clematis viorna is an understatedly spectacular clematis, with a charm not found in many of the large-flowered cultivars.

Clematis viorna is deer resistant.

All parts of leather flower are poisonous. Keep the children and dogs from eating it. It causes intense burning in the mouth if eaten and may irritate skin. On a more positive note, deer stay away from Clematis viorna.

Clematis viorna ‘Groometown’ is deciduous and can grow to ten feet or more. If you are looking for an evergreen vine, Clematis armandii is a classic. Leather flower will scramble along the ground and climb structures. It’s not an aggressive plant. In fact, it can take a couple years to get going. Be patient and vigor will improve with age.

Clematis viorna grows best with afternoon shade or filtered light. It likes moist, rich soil that is well-drained. It can be grown in full sun so long as plenty of moisture is supplied. Still, given its somewhat subtle presence in the garden, I’d recommend shade in the afternoon. It seems a classic woodland plant to me.

The seedpods that appear after flowering are attractive.

Clematis viorna ‘Groometown’ is a Type 3 Clematis. It flowers on new wood, so you can prune it anytime without sacrificing the current or following season’s flowers. Generally, you want to prune Clematis viorna in late winter or very early spring before active growth begins.

Groometown is a small community located near Greensboro, North Carolina.

More information:
Winter hardiness zones: Zones 4-8

Native Distribution:

Genus/speciesClematis viorna ‘Groometown’
Common name(s)leather flower, vasevine
Of notecharming native clematis that deer tend to stay away from – can be grown in fairly heavy shade but flowering may be reduced – poisonous
Fall colorinsignificant
Water requirementsaverage, high
Soil qualityrich, well-drained
Suggested use(s)cottage gardens, native collections, naturalized, shade gardens, understory, woodlands
Hardiness zone(s)4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
Deer resistantyes
Deciduous or evergreendeciduous
Flower colorpink
Bloom periodmid to late spring
Exposureafternoon shade, filtered light

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