Pruning Clematis

A simple approach to pruning clematis with Sensible Gardening

Clematis are hard to beat for adding beauty to your garden in surprising locations. You can grow them up a wall, trellis, arbor, gazebo, fence or even a tree. They make stunning ground covers spilling over rocks, tree trunks and garden walls. From early spring straight through to late fall there are clematis suitable for growing. It’s when we have to decide when to prune clematis that the problem starts. Because not all clematis have the same growth habits, they must be treated differently. Fortunately for the gardener, clematis fall into one of three groups for clematis pruning.  Lets simplify pruning clematis.

Pruning clematis with Sensible Gardening

Pruning Clematis

Group A

If your clematis blooms in early spring (April and May), it belongs to this group. Group A clematis only bloom on growth produced the previous year, also called old wood. Any pruning should be done as soon as they have finished blooming.To prune later than June or to severely prune will result in fewer flowers next spring. You simply have to prune out weak or dead stems.

C. Montana

Pruning clematis with Sensible Gardening

C. Nelly Moser

Pruning clematis with Sensible Gardening

Group B

If your clematis blooms in May and June and then blooms again in early fall, it belongs to group B. Group B clematis bloom mainly on their old wood  in late spring. They then produce a smaller flush of blooms on their new wood, this years growth, in September.

If your clematis blooms from June to September continuously on both old wood and new wood at the same time it also belongs to group B.

Pruning group B is best done in early spring (late February or March). Remove any dead or weak stems, and prune lightly with variations in the length of the stems. This will help to develop a well balanced vine. Group B clematis can be left unpruned for a couple of years and then rejuvenated by cutting back most of the old growth. New growth will very quickly take its place.

C. Henryi

Pruning clematis with Sensible Gardening


C. Ernest Markham

Pruning Clematis with Sensible Gardening

Group C

If your clematis starts flowering in June and blooms heavily and continuously through September, it belongs to group C. Group C clematis only bloom on new wood, and should therefore be pruned heavily. In late February or March your vine should be cut back to strong sets of buds on each stem as close to ground level as possible. Left unpruned this type of clematis can grow out of control which is useful if you want it to grow through a tree. In this case the blooms will all be concentrated at the top of the vine. To keep the vine bushy and full of blooms all along its length, it should be pruned yearly.

C. Viticella

Pruning clematis with Sensible Gardening

C. Jackmanii

Pruning Clematis with Sensible Gardening

If you make a mistake don’t panic. Improper pruning will not kill your clematis, it will only delay flowering. Proper pruning will ensure that your clematis is as beautiful as it was meant to be. Pruning clematis solved!

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Pruning clematis with Sensible Gardening. A simple approach, how to prune your clematis.

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Tagged clematis pruning, how to prune clematis, prune clematis, pruning clematis, when to prune clematis

About Lynne Cherot

It's been a life time of gardening and many years of working in the nursery trade, but now I enjoy exploring and creating in my own gardens and farm fields . I'm passionate about gardening and work alongside my husband who takes care of our apiary. Bees & flowers make a great team! Hopefully by sharing my garden knowledge, your gardening will be easier and more enjoyable.
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5 thoughts on “Pruning Clematis

  1. Great post, Lynne! I have a few different clematis in my yard and I’m sometimes confused about when to prune them. This year I’m growing one up a trellis in the middle of a garden bed like they do in England. I can’t wait to see how it turns out! I’m a fellow member of the Garden Foxes and I’m going to share your post on my FB page this week.

  2. I only seem to have any success with C. macropetala and C. alpina, all seed grown. They volunteer all over the place, so I know they’re happiest in those conditions. They seldom get pruned – that’s why the gazebo fell down with the weight of the snow!

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