Take a deep breath: Sweet Autumn Clematis is in bloom. Photos Leslie Halleck

In The Garden: Autumn is Sweet

This beautiful vine is ready to bloom.

It’s about that time of year when I start getting texts and emails with this question: “Hey, what’s that white stuff blooming all over White Rock Lake Park?” If you’ve taken a spin around White Rock lately, or perhaps live near creeks or other “wild” areas, you too may have noticed the “white stuff.”

Clouds of white blooms, courtesy of the sweet autumn clematis vine, are in abundance at White Rock Lake.
Clouds of fragrant white blooms, courtesy of the sweet autumn clematis vine, are in abundance at White Rock Lake.

When the sweet autumn clematis starts blooming, that’s your signal that fall is truly right around the corner. This vigorous perennial vine will sprawl and crawl over just about anything nearby. Plants can reach 30-feet at maturity. That’s why you see huge clouds of white blooms covering neighboring trees and shrubs wherever this vine is growing. From late-summer to early fall, it offers up masses of quarter-sized, pure white, highly fragrant blooms. The flowers are a breath of fresh air at a time when Dallas landscapes look pretty beat down from the summer heat.

Now, this vine can be a bit of a bully. Don’t plant it if you don’t have a good amount of space for it to spread. It also tends to pop up in other places in the yard, so don’t be surprised if you end up with a few stands. It can spread aggressively by roots and by seed when it finds the right growing conditions and some consider it to be invasive. If you have plenty of space and lots of fence to cover, however, it can be a good fit. Sweet autumn clematis prefers a part sun location, with a bit of shade in the afternoon. Their roots prefer to stay on the cool side, so it thrives when it can grow amongst other garden plants. You can also provide a few inches of mulch around the root zone to keep soil cool.

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