For Pink Clematis Flowers, Grow Dr. Ruppel

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Doctor Ruppel clematis vine's large pink flower.
David Beaulieu

One variety of pink clematis flowers bears the cultivar name of Dr. Ruppel. The scientific name is written as Clematis 'Dr. Ruppel.' This deciduous perennial flowering vine can grow up to 12 feet tall given support upon which to climb. It grows striking pink and violet petals.

Showy "Sepals"

This vine's lovely petals are really called "sepals." They are at their pinkest when they are young. Depending on the lighting in which you see them, you may describe the more mature flowers as pink with a fuchsia stripe down the middle or as bicolored (lavender with a bright pink stripe down the middle).

The effect is a bright color, made up of some pink with hints of lavender. As the flowers fade over time, the lavender color becomes the stronger color. The edges are wavy. 

These pink flowers measure about 6 inches across. In fact, Dr. Ruppel is one of the large-flowered cultivars. There are usually six or seven sepals, each surrounding a light-colored center. Dr. Ruppel clematis comes into bloom in June and will continue to bloom off-and-on into September. You can grow these pink clematis flowers in USDA planting zones 4-8.

Other types of pink clematis flowers include the popular cultivars, 'Pink Fantasy,' 'Nelly Moser,' 'Bees Jubilee,' 'Kakio' (Pink Champagne™), 'Sugar Daddy' and 'Lincoln Star.' There are also some choices from the mountain clematis (C. montana 'Broughton Star' and C. montana var. rubens), Texas clematis (C. texensis 'Princess Diana'), and alpine clematis (C. alpina 'Pink Flamingo') groups.

Growing Conditions

Clematis (for which "virgin's bower" is a common name) is not fussy about soil pH (a roughly neutral pH level should be fine), but the soil needs to be well-drained and kept evenly moist. If you use chemical fertilizers, apply a 5-10-10 in spring, and then, at intervals of about five weeks, apply a 10-10-10 fertilizer.

If you are an organic gardener, use compost. The upper part of the plant should receive full sunlight, while the tender roots need to be shaded so that they stay cool. Preventing clematis wilt and fighting slugs will be your two biggest problems when growing clematis.

Maintenance Tips

  • Trim Dr. Ruppel every other year or every few years. You will have reduced flowering if you prune it in this manner, but you will also save yourself a whole lot of work. Since Dr. Ruppel is a repeat bloomer (known as "pruning-type 2"), in the long run, the vine will grow plenty of flowers.
  • Plant Dr. Ruppel deep enough to help keep its roots cool.
  • Apply mulch to block heat from entering the root zone. Or you could use a "living mulch", which means you allow a ground cover to spread around the base of the vine. Another way to keep the roots cool is by arranging flat stones around the base of the clematis.
  • Handle the vine gently when you do train it because its branches break easily. The least damage is done when the breakage occurs at a node. In such a case, the effect of the break is similar to when you pinch a plant to make it bushier and increase blooming. A couple of weeks after a break, you are likely to see that new flower buds have formed where the breakage took place. But the look of the plant will be marred if the damage is not done at a node.
  • Train the vine up a garden arbor, trellis, lattice fence or even a mailbox post. The plant is a true climber, but it is helpful to tie the vines to a support until they gain a firm hold. This pink clematis flower can also be grown in containers.