Sign up for our newsletter
Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
Clematis 'Polish Spirit'
syn. C. viticella 'Polish Spirit'
Sunset zones: A3, 2b-9, 14-17.
USDA zones: 4-11.
Heat zones: 9-5.
Height: 15 feet (5 m).
Width: 6 feet (2 m).
Midsummer to late autumn.
Saucer-shaped flowers have four to five dark purple-blue tepals with a lighter bar down the tepal's midrib; in the center of the bloom are white filaments and pinkish-purple anthers.
Deciduous, dark green leaves.
Partial shade to full sun.
Fertile, humus rich, well-drained soil.
Although this does not need fertilizing, for best results, feed once a month with a complete organic fertilizer during the growing season.
Layer branches in late winter.
Basal and softwood cuttings in spring.
Division in spring.
Semi-ripe cuttings in early summer.
Pruning group 3 or C.
Rainy Side Notes
Clematis 'Polish Spirit' was raised by Brother Stefan Franczak of Warsaw, Poland. He gave it to Raymond Evison in 1984 who, in turn, introduced it into commerce. Although this clematis' parentage is not known, it comes from the viticella group that hails from the drier regions of southern Europe, making it perfectly suitable for our typical Mediterranean climate in the Pacific Northwest.
The remarkable deep purple-blue flowers of C. 'Polish Spirit' is stunning paired with golden or chartreuse foliage of shrubs or trees; however, it is equally memorable draping across deep green foliage, down over fences and walls and climbing arbors. It is a large vine that can swamp small structures and wimpy trees. Linda Beutler describes this clematis as "an athletic plant"; its pole vaulting capabilities means you want to site it carefully amongst plants that can handle it constantly trying to reach for the moon.
Raymond Evison, who introduced the vine, considers it one of the top clematis in the viticella group. The Royal Horticultural Society gave it an Award of Garden Merit and rightfully so. If I could only choose one of the single, saucer-shaped, purple clematis, this is the cultivar I would select.
Photographed in Lisa Albert's Tualatin, Oregon garden.