Clematis Serious Black (aka Clematis recta Lime Close)

Clematis recta Serious Black

Clematis recta Serious Black

The recent March/April 2013 issue of Fine Gardening magazine has a small article on page 16 about Clematis Serious Black (also known as Clematis recta Lime Close), in which the Northwest Perennial Alliance (NPA) is erroneousely identified as a source. As NPA is getting requests for the clematis, they asked me if I knew of a source. Update: Turns out that NPA is in fact a source — for the SEED of Clematis Serious Black. Please see comment from Fine Garding below for details about how to obtain the seed. And remember, a seedling does not necessarily look like its parent.

This non-climbing clematis throws 4-6′ vines that either ramble through the garden or require support. Its beauty is in its very dark purple (nearly black) leaves that show off the small starry white summer flowers. After checking my own Clematis sources, I found that Clematis Serious Black does not seem to be readily available in the US.  According to Clematis on the Web (a wonderful site for information about thousands of clematis), “The stems and leaves are purple and fade only very slowly. The leaves are a darker colour than those of recta ‘Purpurea’. The original plant was acquired as recta ‘Purpurea’ and grown by Miss C Christie-Miller at ‘Lime Close’, her garden in Oxfordshire, UK.”

Clematis recta 'Purpurea' in Bloom

Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’ in Bloom

Apparently, Clematis Serious Black has not made it across the pond in enough numbers yet for selling. But Clematis recta ‘Purpurea” is available–-I have it myself and love it. While its leaves are not quite as dark as Serious Black, Purpurea has strikingly rich dark purple leaves in spring and early summer, then blooms with white starry fragrant flowers. It really is a lovely plant and might just tide us over until Serious Black makes the scene in this part of the world.

Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’ is currently available at Joy Creek Nursery in Oregon, where you can mail order it. It is also available at T&L Nursery, a wholesale nursery in Redmond, Washington.

Trust me — as soon as I can find one, Clematis Serious Black will grace my garden!

NEXT POST: Brushwood Nursery, the last but not least of my three favorite mail-order nurseries for clematis.


  1. Linda Mammano said,

    February 4, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    Thats a shame, I was ready to go out and get one.


  2. February 5, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Somehow I don’t think you are the only one, Linda!


  3. Danielle Sherry said,

    February 5, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Hi there–This is Danielle Sherry, senior editor at Fine Gardening magazine. I just followed up with NPA re: the sourcing of this plant–and according to the president (Michele Cournoyer) they DO, in fact, sell the seed for Clematis recta ‘Lime Close’. They apologized for the miscommunication within their organization regarding this. Here is the direct link to the seed listing:

    Both members and non-members are able to purchase the seed by filling out the order form that is listed on this page.
    Happy planting!


    • February 5, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you, Danielle, for the clarification! Just remember, everyone, that a seedling of Clematis Serious Black may — or may not — look like it’s exotic parent.


  4. Sarah said,

    February 2, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Its now available through the mail via Wayside Gardens.


  5. Leo JV said,

    July 2, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    2020 question: how (or should I) prune back my clematis recta?


  6. Leo JV said,

    July 2, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    2020 question: How ( or should I ) cut back my clematis recta to encourage a second, late season flowering?


    • July 2, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      I don’t know what climate you are in, but here in Seattle I just cut mine to the ground two days ago. It had just finished blooming magnificently. In two or three weeks I expect to see new purple shoots coming up and growing fast. Then in late August I will get another big flush of blooms, though probably not quite as large as the first flush. Fabulous plant!


      • Leo JV said,

        July 2, 2020 at 7:06 pm

        Thanks. Maydo it if I get some courage. I’m 45 min. by train from NY City.


      • July 2, 2020 at 7:40 pm

        Build up your courage! It’ll pay off with a reprisal of that beautiful foliage and a whole new batch of blooms–even in New York!


      • Leo JV said,

        July 3, 2020 at 8:50 am

        Thanks. Overcast today. I may do the deed.


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