fbpx Italian Clematis | The Morton Arboretum

Italian Clematis

Betty Corning, a viticella hybrid, in flower.

Italian clematis is a species of clematis with purple or violet flowers that are shaped like hanging bells. 

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

Botanical name:

Clematis viticella

All common names:

Italian clematis

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Ground cover,
  • Vine

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Container,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Large plant (more than 24 inches)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Alkaline soil

Seasons of Interest:

  • early summer,
  • midsummer

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Blue,
  • Purple

Shape or Form:

  • Vining

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

More Information:

Size and Method of Climbing

Italian clematis is a relatively smallvine growing abotu 10-12 feet long.  It is twining vine (and also have twining petioles).   Twining vines climb by twisting their stems or leaf stalks around a support.  This type of vine grows well on trellises, arbors, wires or chain-link fences.

Plant Care

Full sun to partial sun (some shade during the day can be beneficial in hot summers).
Mulch to keep roots cool.
Moist well-drained soils.  Tolerate of a wide range of soil pH.
Flowers on new wood, so it should be pruned in winter or early spring.

Disease, pests, and problems

Leaf spots are common among clematis as is stem wilt (wilt being the more serious problem).
Powdery mildew can also occur.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Italy and Turkey.

Leaf description

Leaves are opposite and pinnately divided.

Flower description

Flowers are purple to violet in color.  The are bell-shaped and composed of 4 petal-like sepals.

Fruit description

The fruits are groups of achenes, each with a short tail.

Cultivars and their differences

These cultivars all have Clematis viticella parentage.

Betty Corning Clematis (Clematis 'Betty Corning'): A cross between Clematis crispa and C. viticella. Lavender flowers that are fragrant.  Flowers on  both new and old wood.

Etoile Violette Clematis (Clematis 'Etoile Violette'):  Deep purple flowers, produced in abundance.

Pink Mink® Clematis (Clematis 'Krakowiak'):  Pink flowers with deeper pink stripes.

Polish Spirit Clematis (Clematis 'Polish Spirit'):  Flowers heavily and for much of the season.

Purpurea Plena Elegans Clematis (Clematis 'Purpurea Plena Elegans'):  Doubled flowered cultivar; rose-purple color.

Venosa Violacea Clematis (Clematis 'Venosa Violacea'):  Flowers have a white background with blue-purple veins and margins.

Location of Clematis viticella (Italian Clematis) at the Arboretum