Pruning Clematis - How, when, to Prune
Clematis for best results.
Clematis are normally
grouped into three distinct sections for
pruning. If you are going to prune clematis,
then it needs to be carried out correctly.
However, as with many other shrubs, many
clematis do not 'have' to be pruned. But in
normal garden conditions, pruning of
Clematis is a 'must'.
When you should prune Clematis montana, Clematis armandi - the
Image © David Hughes
Image © David
It is important to remember with these
Clematis varieties that of they are to be pruned, then it must be right
after flowering. If they are pruned back too late in the year, then they
will not have time to make the flower buds ready for the following
spring. Pruning normally takes the form of 'tidying' the plant, or
bringing it back under control perhaps. It is as well to have a good
look at these varieties of Clematis at flowering time, to try to
visualise what amount of growth they will put on during the coming
summer growing season. If you feel that it is going to need cutting back
sometime in the year, then best to do it early and not leave it too late
in the year.
Late pruning will not harm these Clematis
-simply delay the flowering, so that you will maybe not get any flowers
for two years!
Pruning this group Hard - to
This group of Clematis can be pruned - cut
back - hard if desired, in order to rejuvenate it, or to get rid of
older woody stems. They will soon re-sprout into growth, and the worse
that will happen is that you may just not have quite as many flowers the
following year. However, the year after that they will flower as normal.
Mid/Early Summer Flowering Clematis
This Clematis group are pruned at a
different time. The group includes the large flowered hybrids that start
to flower in May and June. It includes some of the best known varieties
of Clematis. These clematis flower on stems made in the previous season.
From these stems, they send out new shoots which will bear flowers
through May until Mid summer.
If this group is cut back too hard in the
spring, then you will be pruning off last season's stems - Result = no
or very few flowers. You need to leave a framework of last year's stems,
so that buds can grow from these old stems, which will send out
The purpose here, is to build up a
framework of stems from the last season. So once established, the
pruning back should be confined to cutting out old and damaged, stems,
then heading back the remaining stems to suit - probably 1 or two metres
from the ground. This will leave plenty of flowering buds to emerge form
the old stems. You can also just leave the plant alone and not bother
with pruning - especially if it is growing up through a tree.
Typical varieties in this group are:
Clematis Barbara Jackman, C. Barbara
Dibley, C. Carnaby, C. Corona, C. florida types, C. Guernsey Cream, C.
Henryii, C. Lincoln Star, C. Lord Neville, C. Nelly Moser, C. Mrs
Cholmondeley, C. Richard Pennel, C. Royalty, C. William Kennett.
There are others!
Group 3 - Late Summer flowering Large
There is - or should be - no secret as to
how these should be pruned, but first let us understand how they grow!
These large flowered Clematis hybrids,
flower on growth made in the current year - not in the previous year
like the first group. They should normally be cut back quite hard in February
or early March. Cut back to a pair of healthy buds which will just be
starting into growth in a normal February. This hard cut-back, will
invigorate the plant and result in good strong new growth (Which will
flower later into the summer!)
This group should be pruned back to within
a 30cm (12in) of the ground each February/March. This will remove all of
the previous season's growths and stems. You are effectively left with a
few stumps of the old stems - cut back as outlined. do not worry - the
Clematis will soon put on a few metres of growth within a month or so of
This group contains many of the favourite
large flowered Hybrids such as ...
Clematis Ascotiensis, C. Betty Corning,
Clematis Bill MacKenzie, C. Comtesse de Bouchard, C. Crispa, C. Ernest
Markham, Gypsy Queen, Jackmanii (Not Jackmanii Alba or Rubra -
which are Group 2), Clematis recta - a perennial! Clematis Rouge
Cardinale, C. Ville de Lyon, C. viticella and all cultivars of that.
Clematis recta - a herbaceous perennial. Prune as group
Hopefully this will give you a better idea about when you
should prune you Clematis.
Clematis Wilt Pruning If your Clematis suddenly
wilts, and foliage dies, this could be signs of
Prompt action, pruning out all dead and dying stems back to good healthy
tissue will often help the plant to recover.
By David Hughes -