Clematis 'The President'

Unimpeachable Source of Summer Color

The President (image) has large purple blooms like Jackman's clematis. Blooms end of May.
'The President' presents a big purple flower for all the world to see, rather like Jackman's clematis. David Beaulieu

Taxonomy and Plant Type

The taxonomical classification for this plant is Clematis 'The President,' the latter being the cultivar name. It is a deciduous perennial vine.

What Clematis 'The President' Looks Like

This climbing vine is a "large-flowered variety" (6-8 inches in diameter). By contrast, sweet autumn clematis, for example, has much smaller blooms, although, to its credit, they are more numerous. Showy, spherical, puffy seedheads succeed the blooms in this genus. As a result, you have fall interest long after the blooms have passed.

The cupped flowers are a dark violet-blue color, somewhat like that of  'Jackmanii'. There are typically eight overlapping sepals, which have hints of silver on their undersides. Reddish anthers (part of the stamen, where the pollen comes from) protrude from the center. Clematis is interesting in that the various types can display a different number of sepals (C. 'Jackmanii' often has four, C. 'Dr. Ruppel' six, etc.). In fact, you can sometime find variation in this regard on the very same plant.

Some years, while the plant is still young, it may bloom in early July and again in September (that is, it is a "repeat bloomer"). But mature plants should start blooming in May. Like Jackman's clematis, its height is intermediate (8-10 feet tall).

Zones, Growing Conditions

The recommended growing zones are 4-8. At the southern end of that range, filtered sunlight is preferred, lest the rich color of the blooms be cooked off. Full sun is fine in the North. But even in the North, mulch the base or otherwise shade the ground from which the plant springs, in order to keep the roots cool. Mulch will also help shield your plant from Old Man Winter's frigid thrusts, a fact especially important to remember if you're growing the vine in a container where winters are bad. Some who experiment with growing 'The President' in a pot forget to mulch for winter, and they pay the price, finding out, in spring, that their vine had died over the course of the winter.

Locate in a well-drained loam enriched with humus. Non-organic growers supplement with applications of a fertilizer such as 10-10-10 in spring and summer. Be sure to water when the soil is dry.

Pruning Clematis 'The President'

This vine is a group 2 type when it comes to a pruning regimen. It is easiest simply to prune it every other year or so after the first flowering.

Clematis and Animals, Pests

The ASPCA lists clematis as being toxic to dogs and cats. It is also poisonous for humans, according to North Carolina State University. Its toxicity may be the reason why the vines are deer-resistant plants. Clematis is also one of the rabbit-proof flowers.

Slugs are a major pest to control when growing clematis. Sarah Ford lists effective control methods in her book, 50 Ways to Kill a Slug; some of them are presented in this article on caring for hosta plants. Earwigs can also be a problem. Just as you can trap slugs with beer, so you can trap earwigs with vegetable oil. Simply sink a shallow container into the ground, then add the vegetable oil. The earwigs are drawn to it, tumble in, and drown. The usual advice for dealing with yet another bug problem -- namely, spider mites -- is to hose down the vines with a strong spray of water, which knocks them off.

But the interaction between these plants and the animal kingdom is not all bad news. For example, they will draw hummingbirds to your yard.

Uses in Landscaping

Flowering vines such as Clematis 'The President' can be used in numerous ways in your landscaping. The vines need support for optimal display, and there's no reason you cannot be creative in providing that support. Mailbox posts, lampposts, porch posts, and trellises are old standbys, but don't limit yourself to these. Other possibilities include:

Related Plants

Clematis is in the ranunculus family. A few other plants with membership in this club are: