Clematis ‘Helsingborg’ offer a spectacular spring show of rich purple flowers. (Photo by Richie Steffen)

Great Plant Pick: Clematis ‘Helsingborg,’ purple alpine clematis

What: Clematis “Helsingborg,” commonly known as purple alpine clematis, is an easy-to-grow vine that produces a spectacular show in mid-spring of nodding blooms. The flowers are a rich dark purple with slightly twisted petals. Under the petals is a full skirt of pale lavender stamens. The foliage is bright green with dark purple stems that really show off the flowers. This alpine clematis is a small vine and very controllable in size making it ideal for smaller gardens.

Plant vines that are well rooted and at least 2 years old. In our climate, planting too deeply can smother the roots, especially in heavy soils. Set young plants at the same depth they were in their nursery pots. Clematis are heavy feeders and appreciate fertilizing in spring.

This clematis blooms on old stems and on new growth, so it is best to only prune lightly in late spring to early summer once the first flush of flowers have finished. Remove congested or tangled growth and thin to the strongest stems. Well established, overgrown plants can be cut back to 12 inches tall in winter to remove large tangles, allowing robust new stems to fill out the plant, but it will not flower the next year.

Size: When mature, the vine grows to be 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

Where: This clematis will grow best in full sun to light or open shade. Provide a location with rich well-drained soil.

Water: Regular watering during dry weather.

— Richie Steffen, Great Plant Picks

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