A vigorous climbing plant with masses of pretty creamy yellow starry flowers followed by fluffy seed heads, Clematis aristata is also known as ‘Old Man’s Beard’ and is found along the coast from Southern Queensland through to Western Victoria.
In the natural environment it would grow in shaded forest areas and would scramble over fallen logs and into lower growing trees. In cultivation it useful a a ground cover plant or climber for a position in light shade. It does prefer a humus rich soil, similar to the better soils in Australian forests enriched with natural forest litter over many years. Will happily cover a fence or pergola with a little training.
Spring flowering is grows well in part shade, in fact a little to well sometimes. Given a cool root run and reasonable soil it will scramble over a fence or trellis fairly quickly. It will also climb through trees and small shrubs and can smother them. Sometimes planted without support it is used a ground cover plant.
Clematis aristata varieties
Three varieties, ‘blanda’ from Victoria and Tasmania, ‘longiseta’ from Queensland and ‘dennisae’ from Victoria however it is the species C. aristata that seems readily available.
Having both male and female plants (dioecious) a number of varieties have been recognized, mainly ranging from north to south. The seed heads on the female plants are fluffy and these ironically give rise to the name ‘Old Man’ Beard’.
Mulch well to provide a cool root run Clematis aristata will generally require little watering once established given cool soil conditions, some extra water in dry summers may be required depending on conditions.
Propagation is from seed sown directly after ripening in late summer, or from cuttings.
Useful in the garden as a climbing plant, where it will use any support, including itself to climb upwards, Clematis aristata can also make an interesting ground cover.
Pruning to promote a most compact and bushy habit can be carried out when the plant is in active growth. You can prune back as much as you like once the plant is established.
Growing well in shade to full sun and coping with both dry and moist soils Clematis aristata is best grown where it can get some moisture in summer.