How To Grow Italian Leatherflower (Clematis viticella) In Your Garden

Clematis viticella, commonly referred to as the Italian Leather Flower or Purple Clematis, is a perennial vine.

Clematis plants carry a profusion of small, bell-shaped flowers from mid-summer to early autumn. Plants grows to a height of 10 to 12 feet (3 to 3.5 m) and spread to about 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 m).

Clematis viticella vine with flowers in bloom
Clematis viticella photograph by Nadya Jones; CC.

The vine's prolific bloom and easy-care nature make it a popular choice for vertical space usage in gardens. It looks great when climbing on trellises, pergolas, or other garden structures.

Plants thrive in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9, and thus has an RHS hardiness rating of H6 (-20°C). This European native is not considered invasive in the USA.

How to Grow Clematis viticella in the Garden

Clematis viticella prefers to grow in a location with full sun to partial shade, with its base shaded and its top receiving more sunlight.

It thrives in a fertile, well-drained soil, and requires a pH range from mildly acidic through mildly alkaline.

Planting can be done in spring or autumn. Dig a hole about twice as wide as the root ball, and plant at the same depth as the root ball. Plant the vine in the hole, and then backfill with the soil you removed. Ensure the crown is 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) below the soil surface, as this will help to encourage new shoots. Water thoroughly after planting.

The Italian Leather flower requires regular watering, especially during the vines first growing season. this will help to to establish a robust root system.

Once established, plants will tolerate moderate drought conditions, though they will appreciate a watering during prolonged dry periods.

Italian Leatherflower
Italian Leatherflower image by Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden; CC.

A balanced, slow-release fertilizer, applied in early spring and in late summer, can help to promote vigorous growth and blooming.

Prune Clematis viticella in late winter or early spring, when new growth appears. Cut back to a set of strong buds about 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 cm) above ground level.

Purple Clematis can be susceptible to pests such as aphids and caterpillars, and diseases including powdery mildew and Clematis wilt (cut affected stems as close to the ground as possible) can be issues. Good care should help minimise these issues .

Adding Clematis viticella to your garden can provides a vertical element of interest to it. It will also add a burst of summer and autumn color. Plants are easy to care for, and have robust growth.

How to Grow Clematis viticella as a Houseplant

Clematis viticella is typically grown as an outdoor plant, but can adapt to indoor conditions.

To cultivate as a houseplant, follow these guidelines. First, select a suitable location with bright, indirect sunlight. Ensure the room temperature remains between 65-75°F (18-24°C). Use a well-draining soil and provide a trellis or support for the vine to climb.

Water the plant consistently, keeping the soil moist, but do not let get waterlogged. Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly during the growing season. Prune the plant in early spring to remove spent or damaged stems, and to promote healthy growth.

Quick Clematis viticella Growing and Care Guide

Scientific Name: Clematis viticella.

Common Name(s): Italian Leather Flower, Purple Clematis, Italian Clematis.

Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): USDA Zones: 4-9.

Best Used For / Garden Location: Climbing trellises, fences, or growing through shrubs and trees.

Plant Details

Life Cycle / Plant Type: Perennial.

Plant Height: 10-12 ft (3-3.5 m).

Plant Spread: 3-6 ft (1-2 m).

Blooms: Midsummer to early autumn.

Flower Details: Purple, bell-shaped flowers.

Leaf Foliage: Green, lance-shaped leaves.

Fruit: Not significant.

Growing Conditions and Location

Best Light Conditions: Full sun to part shade, but prefers the base of the plant to be shaded.

Suitable Soil Types: Well-drained soil; can tolerate clay, loam, and sand.

Sowing / planting: Not applicable. Plant young climbers in spring or autumn.

Germination time: Not applicable for climbers.

Propagation: Semi-ripe cuttings in summer.

Plant Care: Water regularly; prune in late winter or early spring.

Growing in pots and containers: Suitable for large pots with a sturdy climbing support.

Growing as a Houseplant: Not suitable due to size and requirement for outdoor climbing support.

Further Information

Miscellaneous: Attracts bees and butterflies. Not known to be invasive. Toxic.

Pests and diseases: Generally pest-free. Possible issues include aphids and caterpillars.

Common Cultivars / Varieties: Clematis viticella 'Polish Spirit' has deep purple-blue flowers, Clematis viticella 'Madame Julia Correvon' has bright red flowers, and Clematis viticella 'Alba Luxurians' has white flowers with green tips.

Family: Ranunculaceae, the Buttercup family.

Native: Native to Southern Europe.

References and Further Reading: OSU cultivar 'Polish Spirit' information; NC State Extension Plant Toolbox; Clemson guide to Clematis.

Common Questions

Does Clematis viticella make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Clematis viticella, also known as Italian Leather Flower, is a lovely addition to gardens and landscapes. Its vibrant, bell-shaped flowers and climbing habit make it perfect for trellises or fences.

Is Clematis viticella a fragrant plant?

Clematis viticella is not typically known for its fragrance. It's primarily valued for its abundant, colorful blossoms.

What is the perfect location to grow Clematis viticella?

This plant thrives in a location with full sun to part shade. It prefers its roots in cool, moist soil, while its vines love to reach for the sun.

Is it invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Clematis viticella is not thought to be an invasive plant in the US.

How do I remove Italian Leather Flower from my garden?

To remove Italian Leather Flower, cut back the plant to ground level and carefully dig out as much of the root system as possible. Remaining roots may regrow, so monitor the area and remove new growth.


Clematis viticella is a flowering vine that thrives in well-drained, fertile soil. It prefers full sun to partial shade and requires regular pruning for robust growth and vibrant flowering.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this guide on how to grow Clematis viticella. You may also enjoy the following anunculaceae growing guides: How to grow Larkspur, Ranunculus, and Eranthis plants in the garden.

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