Leatherflower (clematis viorna) is a native member of the clematis family. Its native range is most of the Southeast excluding Florida, the Mid-Atlantic region, and most of the eastern Midwest, including parts of Missouri and Arkansas. Also called vase vine, virgin's bower, and other regional names, the vine produces a string of lovely bell-shaped flowers with a leathery texture from spring through summer. The color is usually a dusty pink to red, with some regional variations.
Unlike some popular vines, leatherflower vine only grows to about 10 feet in height. Like many vines in the wild, you'll often find it in the woods near streams, where the light is good. In your garden, it is an excellent choice for lamp posts, mail boxes, or climbing through trellises.
Leatherflower is easy to grow. Find a spot with ample sun to partial shade. Dig a hole about twice as big as your plant's container. Add a little slow-release fertilizer, such as Osmocote® Plus Multi-Purpose Plant Food, and then mulch. Be sure to give it lots of water during its first year.
This is an unusual vine. So you won't find it in the usual places. You can, however, find good purveyors of beautiful native vines, flowers, and grasses online. One such company is Brushwood Nursery, which sold us this specimen the previous season.