The alpine clematis Clematis alpina is a native climbing plant that is popular in the garden because of its delicate tendrils and the pretty, nodding bell blossoms. Once planted, the Clematis alpina usually stays in the garden forever, because it can be used as an ornament in various locations and is also super easy to care for. Also in the cultivars that have produced extraordinary flower colors; one of the stars among these cultivars is the Clematis alpina ‘Ruby’, for which detailed care instructions now follow.

Location and plants

The alpine clematis has few demands on its location: it prefers light penumbra, but also grows in locations with quite a bit of shade. In the long run, it can only cope with a location in full sun if it is in a rather cool environment and ideally has a pond, stream, well, rain barrel nearby that ensure high humidity.

The clematis develops flat, fleshy roots, the fine shoots of which under no circumstances may “be cooked in hot soil”. When choosing a location, it is important to ensure that the root ball and the lower part of the plant are shaded during lunchtime, which can be achieved in case of doubt by accompanying planting with bushy perennials. The effect of the alpine forest vine can be increased by these companions, z. B. If you underplant white flowering ground cover:

  • Arab
  • Iberis, candytuft, in several species / varieties
  • Pulmonaria saccharata, lungwort
  • Symphytum grandiflorum, Beinwell
  • Viola alba, white flowering violets

Clematis alpina prefers to grow on sandy or stony loamy soils, but feels good in all fresh soils. With regard to the pH value, there are no special requests either, any soil with pH 6.5 to 7.5 is tolerated. With soils that are too acidic, as with many alpine plants, there are more difficulties than with soils that are too calcareous.

The alpine forest vine climbs, but not very high. With a climbing aid (see below) she can manage a maximum of 3 meters on a house wall, so from the first floor onwards, other plants have to slowly take over the height growth. On the other hand, Clematis alpina is one of the few plants that make do with the north side of the house.

There are several other places of use for the pretty climbing vine: Clematis alpina ‘Ruby’ is often planted in (large) mobile planters on the balcony because it still grows in the limited substrate volume, but under these conditions never more than two meters (2.50 m) “manages” to grow in height.

Ruby can profitably be used as a privacy screen in the garden because it blooms very abundantly early: as a climbing plant on fences and pergolas or on transportable privacy screens with large plant boxes in the lower area. She also likes to plant any other form of trellis and other plants. It can look really great when the alpine forest vines “ensnare” shrubs or small trees that are in bloom at the same time as they are themselves. Like the following plants:

  • Amelanchier laevis, bald rock pear
  • Halesia, snowdrop trees, in various types
  • Magnolia x loebneri, Großblumige Magnolie
  • Magnolia stellata, Stern-Magnolie
  • Malus sargentii, Japanese crab apple

The best time to plant clematis is late summer (August, September), if the weather is nice and warm until early autumn (October). The reason is that with freshly planted plants the roots should grow first and the soil in late summer has exactly the temperature at which the roots of the clematis grow best. The optimal soil temperature for growing with clematis is between 14 and 22 ° C, and German soil almost certainly only has a soil temperature of 14 ° C (at a depth of 20 cm) in July, August and September. In addition, the vegetative growth in the upper area (leaves, flowers) is largely complete in most clematis in late summer and the plant can now put all its strength into root growth.

The alpine forest vine can be used in the rock garden as a creeping, climbing ground cover. Group planting of at least 3 to 5 pieces is recommended, with a planting distance of up to 80 cm. Otherwise, Clematis alpina is planted at a planting distance of half the growth width, i.e. 55 to 75 cm.

It is best to plant the root ball of an alpine forest vine a few centimeters below the surface of the earth. In this way you promote the development of strong shoots and prevent clematis wilt, which, however, only occurs very rarely in Clematis alpina. Selling and planting is usually done in autumn, but planting is possible all summer.

After planting, the clematis should definitely be subjected to a structural pruning: Cut the newly planted clematis back to 20 to 30 cm above the ground in November or December, then the roots can concentrate on rooting for the time being. This strengthens the plant, which will now branch well and from below next spring. To do this, you have to forego the flower in the first year that you cut away from the spring flower with the building pruning (see below, Clematis alpina ‘Ruby’ creates the buds of the next flower in the previous year). It is definitely worth doing without these few first flowers, because it is about the long-term strength and beauty of the plant.

Care of the alpine forest grapevine

The alpine forest vine is also rather undemanding in terms of care, which is why the care instructions are pleasantly short:

  • After planting, keep moist until grown
  • In darker, damp locations, the alpine forest vine hardly needs any additional irrigation
  • In sunny locations, it usually has to be watered as soon as it has not rained for about a week
  • Fertilization is normal, little in nutrient-rich soils and more in critical soils
  • However, even an alpine forest vine can never object to a little mulch with ripe compost or well-rotted manure in late winter

The peculiarities of the Clematis alpina ‘Ruby’ Clematis alpina is a species from the genus Clematis (Clematis, Clematis) and, together with the type species of the genus, the real or common clematis Clematis vitalba, and the rare upright clematis Clematis recta, belongs to the trio the clematis, which are native to Central Europe. A very exclusive trio of 433 currently recognized clematis species (+ 1183 synonym names, + 76 not yet confirmed species). Most of these species also thrive in temperate climates, but in Asia or America.

‘Ruby’ is a cultivar of the Clematis alpina, a particularly attractive variety with a matt purple-red flower in the delightful size of approx. 5 cm. The flowering period begins in April and continues until May / June, then Ruby takes a break and then continues to bloom until around the end of August.

The large, bell-shaped flowers are formed on the wood of the preseason (on the annual shoots). They are nodding flowers that sit individually on stems up to twelve centimeters long and develop into fruits that are composed of individual nuts. The striking thing about the fruit decorations, however, are the up to 4 cm long hairy stylus (white pompons, which are very similar to a microphone protector), which adorn the alpine forest vine in late summer and autumn.

Ruby is considered one of the most beautiful climbing plants in Central Europe and combines some advantages:

  • extremely hardy
  • beautiful flowers
  • in bright colors
  • grows partly climbing and partly prostrate
  • can therefore be used in a variety of ways
  • extremely robust
  • suitable for any location (with normal soil)
  • can be made to tendril with help

Clematis alpina ‘Ruby’ is especially popular because of its attractive flowers, but other cultivars of Clematis alpina also have exciting flower colors to offer: ‘Bettina’ flowers dark pink, ‘Constance’ dark purple, ‘Frances Rivis’ and ‘Pamela Jackman’ dark blue – violet, ‘Odorata’ pale blue.

Clematis alpina ‘Ruby’ von A – Z

All facts at a glance:

  • Austrieb: April
  • Leaf: deciduous
  • Leaf color: fresh green
  • Leaf shape: simple to double pinnate, lanceolate to ovate, roughly serrated edge
  • Leaf stand: opposite
  • Flowering: simple
  • Flower color: violet-red, sometimes more reddish, sometimes more tending to blue
  • Flower shape: bell-shaped
  • Flower habit: nodding
  • Flowering period: IV to VI, after a break until the end of VIII
  • Soil type: preferably stony loam
  • Soil moisture: fresh
  • Scent: does not smell
  • Fruit: nuts “with a coat”
  • Fertility: flowers are hermaphroditic, pollination by insects
  • Health: very good
  • Home: all of Europe (with the exception of the British Isles and the Iberian Peninsula)
  • Origin: Cultivar, bred in 1937, on the market since 1952
  • Hexadecimal color code flower color: 8b62b2 (see:
  • Bud arrangement: single
  • Bucket culture: not recommended by experts because of its rapid growth, there are dozens of more suitable species / varieties
  • Leaves fall: October, no previous autumn color
  • Cut back: only if necessary, after the main flowering
  • Protection: native wild plants, protected according to the Federal Nature Conservation Act
  • Location: sun
  • Locations facing: E, S, W, N in light shade, full sun only in cool locations with high humidity
  • Use: ornamental plant
  • Winter hardiness: General USDA winter hardiness zone 4 – 9, plants grown in Germany at least winter hardiness zone 5b (down to -26º C, Germany goes through winter hardiness zones 6-8)
  • Spread: 110 – 150 cm
  • Growth habit: climbing plant
  • Growth rate: fast growing
  • Height: 200 – 300 cm
  • Root system: shallow roots, fleshy roots

Climbing aid

Like many clematis, the alpine clematis climbs as so-called leaf-stalk tendrils: The plant climbs up by allowing the leaf stalks to grow around the climbing aid and thus anchoring itself.

A delicate type of tendril that makes minimal use of the climbing aid; thick woody trunks that burst the climbing aid are not to be expected in a Clematis alpina ‘Ruby’. Therefore, a delicate, fine climbing aid, a simple rope system, a light lattice construction made of slats, a delicate trellis are sufficient for the plants.

The Clematis alpina ‘Ruby’ grows very quickly compared to an original Clematis alpina and can grow up to 3 meters high with the right climbing aid. At the beginning the shoots should be attached to the trellis with soft binding material, later the alpine forest vine climbs all by itself.

To cut

This alpine forest vine does not need regular pruning in spring. ‘Ruby’ doesn’t need to be trimmed regularly at all; but if you want, you can “tidy up” immediately after the (main) flowering: shorten faded side shoots down to a few eyes, remove dead and / or damaged shoots. Long shoots that grow beyond the trellis can also be trimmed, this stimulates the development of new future flower shoots.

If the alpine forest vine grows too dense inside, you can first make the more shaping cuts and then only remove the shoots inside that are still growing too dense and could cause fungal infestation.

If the clematis was allowed to grow as it wanted for many years, a basic cut (rejuvenation cut) is due. Immediately after flowering again, all shoots that have long left the climbing aid and “grow around” should give way. Then all the shoots that grow so strongly in adjacent plants that they press them; inside it is thoroughly illuminated.

If a Ruby likes her location so much that she happily sprawls away every season, you can use scissors to reprimand her in the middle of the season if necessary (usually only happens when she is standing alone).


Clematis alpina ‘Ruby’ can be propagated by seeds (which are, however, hardly available in stores), cuttings and subsets.

Conclusion: if clematis, then native alpine clematis, at least if you like to surround yourself with robust, easy-care plants. If you are looking for alpine clematis, then the cultivar ‘Ruby’, at least if you value large flowers in unusual red-blue tones. When it comes to beautiful colors, the other cultivars of Clematis alpina are also worth a look; When it comes to ecological garden design, you should also treat the endangered original Clematis alpina to a place in your garden.

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