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Sweet autumn clematis

Close up of the flowers of sweet autumn clematis.

Sweet autumn clematis is a vine that produces an abundance of small, white flowers in late summer and early autumn.  It should be used with care as it is considered invasive in some locations. Also known as Clematis maximowicziana.

Botanical name:

Clematis terniflora

All common names:

Sweet autumn clematis

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Vine

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Massing,
  • Screen

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:

  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Wet sites,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil

Seasons of Interest:

  • late summer,
  • early fall,
  • mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Fragrant,
  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Vining

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

More Information:

Size and Method of Climbing

Sweet autumn clematis can grow 10 to 20 feet long and is a twining vine (both the stems and the leafstalks twine). 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

This vine grows in full sun or part shade and is actually quite tolerant or moderate shade.
Best in moist, well-drained soils.
Flowering occurs on new wood, so plants can be pruned back severely in winter.

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious problems.  The plant can be an aggressive grower and can become weedy.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Japan, China and Korea.

Leaf description

The opposite, compound leaves have three to five leaflets.  Each leaflet has a smooth, entire margin.
Poor, yellow-green color in fall.

Flower description

Small, white flowers in late summer and early autumn, each about 1 inch in diameter.  Flowers are fragrant and showy.
An individual plant generally has perfect flowers (containing both male and female parts), but separate male and female flowers may occur..

Fruit description

Small dry fruit (achenes) attached to feathery plumes.  These can be very showy.

Location of Clematis terniflora (Sweet autumn clematis) at the Arboretum