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How to Grow Virgins’ Bower

Written by Stephanie on September 28th, 2015

Virgins’ Bower (Clematis flammula) is also called fragrant virgins’ bower because of its strong, sweet almond fragrance.  It is a strong growing deciduous climber of up to twelve feet tall or more.  It forms a dense tangle of cinnamon colored stems, clothed in green leaves which are evergreen in mild climates.  Flowers are white, four petaled, and almond scented.  They are relatively small but very abundant.  They flower late summer to autumn.  In autumn, the plant has silky fruit that are also pretty.

This plant is native to southern Europe but has been cultivated in England since the sixteenth century.  This plant is hardy to zone four in the United States.  It is used to drape trees, walls, and unsightly hedges.  Virgins’ Bower is poisonous despite the sweet smelling flowers.

Virgins’ bower will grow in almost any soil but likes alkaline, well drained and rich loamy soil the best.  It will not tolerate wet feet.  When planting, plant the base three inches below the soil to encourage shoots to come up from it.

Virgins’ bower grows best in full sun, but the base prefers shade.  Surround with shallow rooted plants that will shade the base but leave the top open to the sun.

Virgins’ bower needs a moderate amount of water.  Water frequently during the growing season to keep the soil moist but not soggy.  Water less frequently in the winter.

Fertilize the plant once every two weeks during the growing season.  Use a water soluble fertilizer and water in.

In the spring, the virgins’ bower needs to be cut back to around eight inches tall.  You should cut all the old growth off and cut back to a pair of healthy buds.  Virgins’ bower blooms on new growth so if you do not prune it you will not get much in the way of flowers that year.

You can propagate virgins’ bower two ways, The first is to let the seeds get ripe in the autumn and use them to plant.  You will need to use a cold frame to keep the seeds warm enough to germinate.  Alternatively, you can start them in three inch pots in the house.  They need warmth to germinate so place them in a sunny window.  When they have outgrown the three inch pots you can plant them outside in the autumn.  This gives them time to grow their roots and settle before having to deal with the winter.  Be sure to harden off the plants before planting them outside.

You can also propagate virgins’ bower by taking soft wood cuttings in the spring when you are pruning your plant.  Dip in rooting hormone and place in good seedless starting mix in a three inch pot.  When roots have developed well, (four to six weeks), you can plant the virgins’ bower in the ground.  Keep the cuttings moist but not soggy and place them in bright light but not in the direct sun until rooted.

 



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