Clematis Stans

Given as a gift from Christopher upon our first face to face meeting in 2008, seeds had been given to him from another garden blogger in San Francisco to help jumpstart his new North Carolina garden after moving there from Hawaii. The world shrank thanks to the words and photos personally posted on the world wide web by a diverse trio of virtual friends. The gift proved its merit the next year.

July 7, 2009 005 (2)
It was new to me, this gift of a tiny seedling with the stand up name of Clematis stans, but back in 2008 many now familiar plants were unknown quantities. Blogging has opened many doors. While the gift was still quite small, research showed it might not be much to get excited about. There was little information about this plant to be obtained from a Google search, but this was near the top, from Clematis International:

Gardeners who grew up on Christopher Lloyd’s Clematis may recall with a chuckle his characterization of Clematis stans as bearing flowers “of a spitefully non-contributory off-white skimmed-milk colouring.” It is not known how many sufferers from clematis lust over the years cheerfully decided that this was one plant they need not bother to try, and left it to the hopelessly addicted. But to re-open the question, we offer a no less pungent line from a famous non-contributor to botany, Ira Gershwin: “It ain’t necessarily so.” Clematis stans is a variable species, and though its flowers differ over a narrow range they are not all alike. In different forms they may vary in shape from slender to chunky, and in colour from white (through skimmed-milk) to a soft lavender-blue. Not to mention that a great part of the attraction of this species lies elsewhere, in its handsome coarse foliage and the intricate branching of its upper reaches.

It is native to Japan, where it is called kusabotan. It is not a vine, but a sub-shrub—the sort of clematis that is usually described as “herbaceous erect,” though it can in some situations develop a woody base. Every year it forms a new clump of strong free-standing stems, each bearing three widely-separated toothy-edged leaflets, which have the valuable garden trait of holding their fresh green colour even through the season of bloom. It is a trait they share with the closely-related C. heracleifolia, and the species is still sometimes found in nursery lists as C. heracleifolia var. stans.

August 5, 2009 021 (2)
Even though I adore white flowers of all sorts, even those non-fat dairy types, it was cause for unbridled glee when the gifted Clematis stans turned out to sport blossoms of a Delft blue hue.

The Clematis stans has grown more robust with each passing year, producing scores or more flowers that are visited frequently by pollinators of all shapes.

Planted at the base of a standard-trained Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ being supported by a stout metal fence post, the somewhat lax stems are braided up the support to keep the flowers at eye level for the camera-wielding gardener/photographer.

In the fall, the darkening leaves and fluffy seed heads join in the garden tapestry with the pink pee gee bloomballs as the garden descends into gorgeous decay.

Searching the earth around the metal fence post for whatever, we came upon this seedling. It appears to be a blessed baby Clematis stans, being nursed along by the nanny grape hyacinth bulb, completely out of the ground but still growing and the rambunctious bodyguard golden creeping jenny. Oh happy day! There is nothing more thrilling than free plants, and free plants begat from free plants is home made fudge topping on the organic vanilla ice cream sundae.

Plant facts about Clematis stans:

Shrubby herbaceous perennial
Non climbing
Prune to ground level in winter
Hardy in USDA Zones 5-10
Sun to part shade
Adequate moisture with good drainage
Native to Japan at forest edges in the mountains
Grows 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall, 3 to 4 feet wide
Support is helpful to keep a smaller width
Blooms late spring into fall
Pollinator friendly
Variable blue colored flowers

Give this one a try. Highly recommended.


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17 Responses to Clematis Stans

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Mmmm that fudge topping is gorgeous. I am not sure I have heard about this one. It appears to be a keeper though.

    It is a sweet plant, Lisa, with lots going for it. It is one of those lesser knowns that needs some PR marketing love and a cool name to bring it to the attention of the plant buying public. It is gorgeous, pollinator friendly and easy care. I cut it down to ground level once a year in winter. Now let’s think of a good name that has food in it, that seems to be the secret. How about ‘Blue Sprinkles’?

  2. Carol says:


    It would look good in your garden, Carol. The flowers are beautiful but demure and the most lovely shade of blue. I don’t know from whence the seeds originated, only that Chuck B. bought them, gave some seeds to Christopher who had them growing in flats on the deck and he scooped up a couple of babies and gave them to me. Tiny things. I stuck them all in one hole and forgot about them. Easy peasy.

  3. Gail says:

    Frances, that’s a lovely clemmie. It has a lot going for it~pollinators, form and that wonderful blue. You’re right it needs more PR and starting at Fairegarden will help tremendously. xoxogail

    Thanks Gail. It is a beauty and I hope to generate some interest in it. It is deserving of being more widely grown.

  4. what a lovely Clematis! I will have to find seeds and give it a try. the obvious clematis garden varieties do not grow here, it is too warm I guess. Thanks for introducing this one to me 🙂

    It really is a beauty, GT. Good luck with it!

  5. Mine took a little longer, but are now big, bushy and loaded with blooms each year. If they’s making babies I won’t know it until they get big enough to stand out in the Lush.

    Thanks again for the wonderful gift, Christopher. The babies will not stand out against your lush until they are no longer babies. But that is probably okay, too. It is an amazingly beautiful plant.

  6. michaele says:

    Love the delicate intricacy of the flower and it’s such a lovely blue. Are you expecting your newly found baby to look the same as the parent?

    It is a beauty, Micheale. I don’t have any preconceived expectations for the baby. I will be happy with whatever it becomes. The main thing is I hope to find more babies!

  7. Rose says:

    Love those those blue blooms–even better than fudge topping! I wonder how many times we’ve passed up plants because of someone else’s negative review. Blogging has opened up a whole new world, though; not only have I learned about new plants, but I’ve been encouraged to try things I never would have before.

    Thanks Rose. Oooh, you are making me hungry for hot fudge over cold ice cream! I agree about blogging opening a new world to us, for plants and new friends!

  8. Donna B. says:

    I love your solo portraits on the plants in your garden. And this Clematis! It’s such a demure flower! I’m particular to bell-shaped flowers… and on a vine?! Yet another plus! They add a nice character to the plant!
    But I love Clemati in general… I was given one when my boyfriend’s brother and wife moved down to Florida. I’m not sure of the species or even the bloom color, but it’s planted at the base of my front porch’s railing, it has yet to flower but last year was the first year in the ground. I’m hoping it does bloom this year, I want to know the bloom color!
    [Speaking of amazing color… the Clematis aplina “Stolwijk Gold” is one I really, really, really badly want… a link to it is in my “Website” line]

    Thanks Donna! I was wondering if you were working for Plant Delights! HA And Oh baby baby to that gold leaf clemmie! Woohoo, what a beauty with the blue flowers, too. I need another climbing clem for my mailbox, hmmmmm…..

  9. Dee says:

    I bought a tiny slip of it after you liked it long ago. It is now much bigger each year even though it’s not in the best place. ~~Dee

    Great, Dee, I am so glad you got one of these fine plants. I lucked out on the placement with mine, it seems very happy and is where I can see it well, next to the steps behind the garage.

  10. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Want too!

    It’s a good one to want, Cindy!

  11. Lola says:

    Beautiful. I want. Must see if that is possible. I’ve tried Creeping Jenny twice & it has died both times. I do like that plant also. Maybe I’m not holding my mouth right. lol

    Creeping Jenny needs extra moisture to get established, then is quite drought tolerant afterwards. I would give it another try and hold your mouth in a smile as you water it frequently!

  12. Barbarapc says:

    Frances, completely agree. I’ve grown this for many years – sometimes seedlings are a little skim-milkish – but often they’re not. Also the growth habit can be a little variable for me – I’ve got lovely round shrubs and others that sprawl and share their blossoms with neighbours. I know folks who have grown theirs from cuttings which would give a colour guarantee. It’s an excellent plant in my Zone 5B garden – lovely scent late in the autumn.

    Hi Barbara, I am tickled that you, too, have this delightful plant. I would be happy for skim milk flowers, or blue, or whatever it choses to be. Interesting about the variable habit, too. Mine is a sprawler with being wound about the hydrangea stem/post. I hope for more babies!

  13. Francis, Do you find seeds of your own? If so, would you consider a trade? I’d love to try propagating clematis stans. Do you think I might have something YOU would like?? If this doesn’t work, don’t worry. I’ll just poke around to see if I can find another way to locate this plant!! 🙂

    Hi Shady. I would be glad to trade or give you seeds if I ever see any. As with most Clematis, it is nearly impossible to tell what is a seed on those fluffy heads. So far I have only seen the one baby, too, so I am guessing this is not producing many seeds at all. I will keep looking for some, though. In the meantime, Annie’s Annuals is offering blue flowered plants of this for sale.

  14. Hi Frances

    A beauty. I bet it would look good rambling along the ground too. Sadly the slugs and snails would probably agree. There’s something doubly satisfying having a beautiful plant started from seed.

    Hi Rob, thanks for visiting, so nice to see you here. There are certain spots in my garden where slugs and snails are a problem, but on our dry, sunny slope most plants are quite safe from them. Clematis stans would be a nice rambling sort of thing, but that would waste precious floor safe in my garden! I try to pack in as much as possible, the reason for all those standard trained shrubs like the Pee Gees. My seed success rate is dismal, but occasionally something grows on to be a favorite child here.

  15. I’m agreeing with Rob (above) that it would look good along the ground too. Haven’t seen this variety before. I wonder how hardy it is for my Zone 5b garden.

    Thanks for visiting, Heather. I am guessing this clemmie would be hardy for your garden. If I had more room, to spare, the sprawling blue bell shapes sure would be pretty. My garden is more like Noah’s Ark, I need a couple of every plant that will grow here, so need any extra space for adding new. Hence all the standard trained shrubs, I like to plant underneath for optimum growing space! HA

  16. Linda says:

    This is a perfect plant for several reasons, but the visual part is what interests me. My garden has all colors, in carefully selected areas. I cant take severe heat, but still want to enjoy my garden during the dog days, so the patio and arbor area (where visiting and relaxing is done) is primarily blue and white flowers, sagey leaves…….very cool. Also adds a different texture. Then the food garden is surrounded by reds, oranges and yellows, stimulating heat and vigor….the fruits and veggies seem to like that!
    When I look at this clematis, it makes me smile…….reminds me of many little fairies, in flight.

    Thanks Linda. Those bell shapes would make great fairy napping spots. The blue and white color scheme is indeed serene, and cool on hot summer days.

  17. That is one fascinating Clematis! Thanks for all the great info about it, too!

    Thanks for stopping by, Plant Postings. This is a plant that should be more widely grown!

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