Clematis are known primarily for their beauty as a climbing vines. Don't overlook their ability to grace your dining room table as well! Clematis not only make beautiful and unique bouquets for you home, but are also one of the longest lasting cut flowers available. With proper care, they can often last 2 weeks or longer!
Opinions on the best way to cut and care for clematis off the vine vary, and sorting fact from fiction can sometimes be confusing. Everything we have supplied here is, to the very best of our knowledge, the most accurate information possible, but some contradictions may still turn up.
The first and vitally important item when creating a clematis bouquet, as with all plants, is choosing your flowers. Not only do some clematis last longer than others off the vine, but the time you pick the flower is also important. Pick flowers when they are about half to ¾ open to allow for the longest bloom. Also, look at the center of your chosen bloom before cutting. The stamens should be together, not unfolding. Choose flowers with thick, strong-looking stems. Some good choices include 'Ibi', 'Nelly Moser', 'Eyers Gift' and the Kivistik varieties.
When actually cutting the flowers, you will find information that says soaking them in warm water, or even burning the ends is the way to go. However, according to other sources, cold water is fine. Lukewarm water will cause buds to open faster, but this is not always a positive when arranging. It does appear to be universal, however, that getting the flowers into water very quickly is vital to lengthening the life of the bloom. Additionally, it is suggested that flowers be gathered early in the morning or in the evening, when the blooms are the most completely hydrated.
After you have chosen your flowers, use a sharp knife to cut the ends of the stems diagonally. This allows the most water possible to be absorbed by the stems. Also, remove any leaves that would be covered by water in your chosen container. Allowing these leaves to sit in the water encourages rot and shortens the life of your flowers. It is also important to remember to change the water every day or every other day for the same reason. Some sources suggest using a turkey baster to draw out the old water, in order to not be constantly moving the flowers themselves.
In order to maximize the life of your flowers further, keep them out of direct sunlight, as it causes the blooms to wither faster. While you can mix decorative beads into the water in see-through containers, clematis don't do well in floral foam. Also, if you choose to use beads or glass rocks, don’t let them crush the stems; this denies the blooms much-needed hydration. Finally, add a tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water. Bleach will kill bacteria and allow your flowers to bloom longer. Be warned however! Too much bleach will kill your flowers, so measure carefully!
When looking for arrangement ideas, try mixing Clematis with other flowers. It is important to remember though, what makes Clematis blooms so beautiful is their uniqueness, so don’t try too hard to make them go against their nature! Allow them to flow from whatever vase or container you have chosen from them. We suggest A Creative Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Clematis by Nicholas Hall as excellent idea-material for new flower arrangers. There are some beautiful ideas to be had!
Another great way to arrange Clematis, especially those with beautiful blooms but thin stems, is to cut the stems short and float them in a bowl of water. This allows the blooms to stay hydrated and you don’t have to worry about broken stems.
Finally, once you think your blooming season is over, don’t despair. The seed heads on many Clematis varieties are still interesting and lovely enough to be included in both cut flower and dry flower arrangements.
Our sincere thanks to Laurette Chapman, who created the
arrangements for the photos accompanying this article.