Growing Clematis with Shrubs:
A Few that Didn't Work!
It is not a good idea to plant a clematis and a young shrub at the same time with the intent that they will 'grow up together'. Although clematis are not known as fast growing plants, they will grow faster than most shrubs and a combination that looks well balanced when planted will very often be 'clematis-heavy' within a year or two. Ask me how I know....
Once Upon A Time, we planted Hagley Hybrid and a purple sand cherry at the same time. It seemed a perfect match - Hagley's anthers are the same color as the sand cherry's foliage and her pink petals contrast well with the purple. However, within a year she had swamped the sand cherry. You can see just a few purple sand cherry leaves in the center!
This Etoile Violette was planted on a large, white rugosa rose, which promptly winter-killed almost to the ground. Although the rose was large enough when the clematis was planted, it didn't recover quickly from the winter damage and we struggled for a couple of years to keep the clematis from smothering it while it got back on its feet.
Luckily, rugosa roses are tough as nails. Here's ours a couple of years later, happily cohabiting with its clematis. The rose is upright and the clematis climbs through it and into the next shrub.