Clematis Piilu

Clematis ‘Piilu’ – care and pruning

Categories: pink clematis, 2 pruning group, large-flowered, winter-hardy, double-flowered

‘Piilu’ is one of the most popular clematis varieties in USA. It used to be one of the three most popular varieties, but in recent years it has been supplanted by ‘Taiga’ and other novelties that are more unusual in appearance or more resistant. However, it is still loved for its large terry flowers.

Description and characteristics


  • Group.Early flowering large-flowered clematis
  • Pruning Group. 2 (weak pruning)
  • Plant height. 1.5…2 meters
  • Leaves. Mostly trifoliate, green, sometimes with reddish petioles
  • Flowering. On shoots of the last year, then on shoots of the current year
  • Flowering time. From mid-May to mid-June, again in August-September
  • Flowers. Medium-sized to large, from 6 to 12 cm across, on shoots of the last year more often terry and semi-waving, on shoots of the current year dewy
  • Sepals. on terry ones are many, on simple ones more often 4, 5 or 6. The length of the lower sepals is from 4.5 to 6 cm, width 2…3.6 cm, shape from broadly oval to rhombic, the edge is strongly wavy, the tip is pointed, along the center line several deep furrows.
  • Coloration of sepals. from almost white along the margin to rich purplish-pink closer to the middle and especially to the base. Most of the sepal is pink. The intensity of color depends on the conditions, in the sun the sepals gradually burn out.
  • Stamen coloration. Stamen filaments white, anthers yellow.

History of “Piilu”


The clematis variety ‘Piilu’ was obtained by Estonian breeder Uno Kivistik in 1984 as a result of crossing clematis ‘Hagley Hybrid’ and ‘Terry’ (I have never heard of the latter variety). In 1987, Kiwistik had its first bloom and registered the variety in 1988. Piilu is also sold under the name ‘Little Duckling’ in some regions.



Clematis “Piilu” planting and care

Planting and care of clematis in detail

  1. How it winters, winter hardiness. Winters in the conditions of most U.S. states, including Michigan and Oregon is not bad, but even with the preservation of last year’s shoots in the lack of heat does not give full-fledged terry flowers in such places. It is an excellent variety for the Carolinas, California and other warm and sunny states.
  2. Best time to plant. Early fall when the air and soil are cooler.
  3. Acceptable time to plant. Early spring.
  4. Undesirable time for planting. Late spring and summer, only transplanting with a clump of soil is acceptable.
  5. Sunlight Requirements. Full lighting with shade in the summer midday hours, light shade is acceptable. In southern regions in the direct sun the flowers burn out strongly.
  6. Soil requirements. Light, well cultivated, with a high content of humus. A slightly alkaline pH is best, about 7.5. Slightly acidic to slightly alkaline is acceptable.
  7. How to prepare the planting hole. It is better in advance, large enough, about 50x50x50 cm. Fill the pit with a mixture of extracted earth with compost (1:1) or humus (2:1). In the mixture, add about 30 grams of double superphosphate. Do not put drainage at the bottom of the pit!
  8. Whether it is possible to deepen when planting. It is possible to burrow with the one-ripe part of the stem. If the plant is young, and there is no such part of the stem, it is not possible to deepen.
  9. How to water. Only in prolonged drought, abundantly (half a bucket for a young plant, a bucket for an adult), but rarely.
  10. How to feed. In the first year after planting do not feed, then – three times a season. Read more about feeding clematis.
  11. How to prune. Pruning group is the second. In autumn, the shoots of the current year are cut at a height of about a meter above a pair of strong buds. The shoots of the previous year are cut at a height of 10…20 cm above a pair of strong buds to get branching
  12. How to girdle. Clematis ‘Piilu’ clings to the support with its leaf petioles and is held securely on it. Gartering is only necessary to direct the shoots as you need them. It is best to use ropes made of natural materials.
  13. Covering for the winter. The shoots kept for the winter are bent to the ground, ideally it is better to put lapnik under them. Then on top also conifers or something to hold the form, then non-woven covering material and then polyethylene or other material that will prevent flooding. On the leeward side it is necessary to leave a small vent for ventilation.

    Clematis Piilu covered or winter
    Juniper branches and a metal trellis are needed to keep the clematis shoots off the ground and provide an air cushion.
  14. Diseases and pests. The main danger is the wilt of clematis. Mealy mold, spotting and some leaf-eating insects are not dangerous.

Reviews about clematis “Piilu”

Reviews about clematis “Piilu” quite a lot:

  • Michigan: clematis blooms only ordinary flowers, in the first flowering they are like semi-marginal, and in the second quite ordinary.
  • Wisconsin: clematis is two years old, in the first summer after planting it gave several very large flowers, including two terry, but did not grow at all in height. In the second year it grew from the root, because the shoots froze.
  • Oregon: Piilu winters very badly, and when the shoots do survive, it does not give normal terry flowers, it gives weak ones.
  • Arizona, northern dictricts: Beautiful clematis, but grows one thread for a year and does not want to branch at all.
  • Orange County, CA: burned out a lot, but when moved to a place near a fence and lilacs, the flowers stopped burning out early, became very beautiful and long blooming, and terry and regular.
  • Texas: perfectly blooms large terry flowers.
  • Miami, FL: beautiful clematis, responds well to fertilization, flowers first terry pink with reddish, and then regular.
  • south of Toronto, Canada:

    clematis Piilu or Little Duckling, it’s the same thing one of the best I’ve ever had. If it is properly covered, it gives the next year a stunning bloom with double flowers…

If you also have experience growing this clematis, please leave your feedback in the comments below. Any experience will be interesting to other readers.

About the author

Fedor Fironov
Graduate of Plant Protection Faculty at GSAU. Main area of interest – clematis, peonies and perennials of Lamiaceae .

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1 thought on “Clematis ‘Piilu’ – care and pruning”

  1. Been growing Clematis Piilu here in Utah for a few years now. Does pretty good, blooms are nice. Needs some shade in our hot summers. Not too fussy about the soil. Overall, a good choice for the garden here. Would recommend.

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