Smell My Sweet Clematis

March 31, 2010 | By | Comments (9)

Armand clematis 006

The Grump firmly believes that people should smell good at all times, which is why he showers in Brut every morning. He thinks gardens should smell good too, which is why he covered the arbor entry to his side garden with a vine called Armand clematis.

Unlike most species of clematis, this one (Clematis armandii) is evergreen. Each leaf consists of three glossy, dark-green leaflets that droop down 3 to 5 inches. I can't think of an evergreen vine with prettier foliage. 

Of course, the sensational flowers really sell this clematis. They're incredibly fragrant. I planted the one you see here after it had been stored in a 3-gallon container in a very large room overnight. When I opened the door in the morning, the sweet scent practically knocked me down.

Armand clematis 001 The pure white flowers, about 2 inches across, appear in great profusion in early spring. They last for a couple of weeks and then they're gone. After they fade is the time to prune this clematis and believe me when I say this now and remember it later — you will have to prune. Armand clematis is a very vigorous grower once established and will grow to the tops of trees if you let it. Right after the flowers drop, it sprouts a thicket of runners on the top, each one looking to latch onto something and climb. My electric hedge trimmers put a quick end to this, something I have to repeat once or twice more during the growing season.

Armand clematis is very easy to grow. Its major limitation is cold. You can expect a lot of brown leaves if the temp drops to 10 degrees. I wouldn't plant it anywhere where winter temps reach near zero. Other than that, it's pretty simple. Give it full to part sun and well-drained soil. That's it. It tolerates drought and has no pests.

It's an easy plant to find where I live in Alabama — most nurseries sell it and now  is a good time to plant. If you can't find it locally, you can order through the mail from Fantastic Plants.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to shower. Lemme see — one bottle of Brut or two?


  1. dsly2013

    …”sweet sunny South, I never knew
    just how much i could miss you…”
    (Kieran Kane, a fine southern gent; lyrics from his song :”Eight More Miles”)

    Yes, the Armandii may grow best in the South, AND contribute significantly to the “sweetness” Mr. Kane alludes to — but living now north of the 49th parallel, (250 mi. north of Seattle) I was AMAZED to find it THRIVING along the fence at my townhouse complex.

    The flowers have just faded, but I’m still trying to recall their heavenly fragrance…I’d be very interested in how YOU, Grumpy, & Steve B would describe their fragrance — i get all confused with jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and lilac etc. (have trouble remembering which is which). Just know they’re ALL divine…!

    I will do more web research and try to find what others say about the fragrance…I’d like to put WORDS to what my senses have been telegraphing (very hard, in this case, since I don’t have what the French call “a NOSE” — i.e. laser-like precision in identifying odours/fragrances. In a way it’s like taking a walk in the woods & trying to identify birdsong — so many sweet warbles sound alike, yet subtly different… Speaking of which, still miss those mockingbirds…sigh

    April 24, 2013 at 10:18 am
  2. Steve Bender


    It’s all up to your nose.

    April 22, 2013 at 12:59 pm
  3. Diana

    Hi Grumpy
    Love your blog –thanks! How would you describe the fragrance of the Armandii — jasmine-like? I find it very pleasant, but elusive and hard to describe…???

    April 17, 2013 at 12:00 pm
  4. Grumpy Gardener (His Grace)

    It will definitely do that! And then when he starts looking for his boat, you can say you sold it.

    April 3, 2010 at 10:36 am
  5. Laura

    Thanks for this post! My husband has a large boat that is sitting next to our driveway, and it has become a lawn ornament.
    I’m thinking of planting this clematis to grow over it so as to disguise it from the road. And the scent would fill the whole neighborhood!

    April 3, 2010 at 10:16 am
  6. Grumpy Gardener (His Grace)

    The clematis fragrance last two weeks; eau de pointer lasts 52. Good luck with the other 50.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:34 pm
  7. The Lazy Gardener

    It’s even easier to grow in the Upper Texas Gulf Coast area. It blankets ditches around Beaumont and grows really well in Houston. I have it over our dog pens in the (probably overly-optomistic) hope the fragrance will overpower eau de pointer.

    April 2, 2010 at 11:27 am
  8. Grumpy Gardener (His Grace)

    OK, guys, you read it here first! Rub some sweet shrub under your arms each morning.

    April 1, 2010 at 1:54 pm
  9. Carol

    You like to use Brut – well I met a man yesterday who smelled so much like Sweet Shrub that I finally had to ask what he was wearing. Turns out it was just his deodorant – Mennen of some sort.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:32 am

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