Clematis virginiana

Virgin's Bower

$3.00 - $40.00

1/8 oz.
1/4 oz.
1/2 oz.
1 oz.

Bare Root Plants
Out of Stock

3 Pack
Out of Stock
Tray of 36
Out of Stock

Virgin's Bower is a perennial vine that can extend up many feet.  Its stems easily twine around trellises, fences, and nearby vegetation. Virgin's Bower prefers partial sun, moist to mesic conditions, and loamy soil.  One can often find Virgin's Bower in thickets, woodlands, meadows, floodplains, and riverbanks. 

White flowers abundantly spread along the length of the vine, typically in panicles, or small clusters. There is much variation in the flowers; a single plant can either produce all staminate flowers (male), all pistillate flowers (female), or all perfect flowers (both male and female reproductive parts).  Regardless of gender, the flowers are less than 1" across with four sepals that are white or cream colored. These flowers bloom mid-late summer and last about a month.  These flowers are visited by Halictid bees, wasps, and various native flies.  Virgin's Bower is toxic to mammals, although the foliage is often used as nesting habitat for many songbirds.

Virgin's Bower can be confused with Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora or Clematis paniculata),an aggressive Asian vine with sweet-smelling flowers that has escaped from cultivation. The fragrance and the leaves set the two vines apart: Virgin's Bower leaves are jagged on the edges whereas Sweet Autumn Clematis has rounded leaves.  The native Clematis has also been nicknamed "Prairie Smoke on a Rope" for its similar looking seedhead to the famous prairie plant Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke.)  It also may be referred to as Devil's Darning Needles.

Live Plant Shipping Table

Spring Fall Age/Size
Dormant Bare Roots April/May October 1 year
Potted 3-Packs May/June August/September 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep pots
Potted Trays of 36 May/June N/A 2" wide x 5" deep plugs

Clematis virginiana - Virgin's Bower

Map Key

Present in state
Present but introduced in county
Present and native in county; not rare
Not present in state
Present and native in county; rare
Species extirpated (historic)
State or county listed as noxious
Present in state; exotic

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

6 Questions asked on Clematis virginiana

What is the correct way to prune Clematis virginiana?
I assume you want pruning to reduce this vines' size or tidy the appearance? Usually I clip vines early in the spring as they just about to leaf out. If there are dead strands I take them back to a good strong intersection of leaf and stem where all the buds show signs of life. You could maybe pinch back at a height of 2-3’ to try and force bushiness and reduce height a bit but go easy on this as it does not always work the way you may want.

Pruning at this time of year (July) can be done, but only if you are just tidying up

Hi--For seeds like Clematis v. that require cold/moist stratification, is there a way to buy ready-to-sow seed for the spring? I may still have time here in NH, but just wondering. Thanks.
Thanks for writing, Jordan. No, sorry, we don't pre-treat any germination code C (cold moist stratification needed) seed before sale and we don’t know of any nurseries that do. Seeds need to be planted immediately once their artificial cold, moist period has ended. Since we don’t know when seeds will sell, we can’t have them ready.

We sell seeds year-round and we have thousands of seed lots of more than 700 native species with varying germination requirements. If you think about the logistics of trying to have seeds of all those species pre-treated and ready to plant, it’s just not practical.

The easiest approach for the individual grower is to follow the natural cycle of the plant. For most native wildflowers, that means sowing seeds outdoors, late fall, winter, and even early-spring sometimes, and let nature take its course by doing the cold/moist stratification for you. Good news is that since it's mid-Feb now, and Virgin's Bower only needs about 30 days of cold/moist treatment you definitely have time in NH to either outdoor sow (a bare, weed-free site should be under that snow), or start the process in your fridge.

So, does this plant have a fragrance? Or is it only the Asian kind that does.
Thanks for writing, Beyla. Like many other lovely native wildflowers, Clematis virginiana has very little fragrance to us, but the pollinators are still attracted to it. The lack of scent is one of the ways to distinguish it from the invasive Asian species (Sweet Autumn Clematis - Clematis terniflora or Clematis paniculata .
I have a tree stump that is about 3-4 feet high and about 2-3 feet wide. Would this be a good vine to plant at the base of that stump?
Hi Janette. It's possible. Normally, it would want to reach higher than 3-4', but if it has no where to go it will spread out somewhat. Can you put a trellis or something behind the stump to allow it to climb higher?
Would this grow well along a chain link fence? I have a small yard (just under an acre). I am OK if it takes over the fence but I wouldn't want it to overwhelm anything just beyond the fence. Thanks!
Hi Alex. Yes, it should grow very well up a chain link fence. But keep it mind it is a woody perennial, so the vine does not die back each year. Rather, the spring growth comes from the woody stems. You can imagine as the vine gets older and spreads quite a weight can be added to a fence. I've seen Virgin's Bower add stress to fences that are not well supported and almost knock them down.
Would this tolerate acidity in the soil? My idea is to let this climb a few of the tall yellow pines in a partially wooded area on my acreage in SC.
Hi Andrea, It should do well in slightly acidic soil. It's hard to say how it will do under your pines. Competing with the pines for light and water would probably be more of an issue than the pine needles in the soil. If you give it a shot, please let us know how it goes!


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Full, Partial
Soil Moisture
Medium-Wet, Medium
up to 9 feet
Bloom Time
July, August, September
Bloom Color
Deer Resistant
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code