Gardening and Plant FAQs

Q: How and when do I Prune my Clematis?

Pink Clematis FlowersClematis pruning depends on how it flowers

This is an brief attempt to simplify the very confused and often over complicated world of Clematis pruning!

Clematis plants can be split into two groups, those that flower on old wood and those that flower on new wood. This is a very important distinction as it ultimately determines the best time to prune the particular variety of Clematis.

Firstly we need to remember these three points about Clematis:

  1. Clematis flower quite happily in the wild and are never pruned!
  2. The key to Clematis pruning is to establish which wood it flowers on
  3. Consider feeding your Clematis with a specialist Clematis food after pruning

Clematis Flowering on Old Wood

Look at the shoots that are flowering are they woody and tough? Are there other obvious signs that the flowering wood has been maturing for some months? Clematis that flower on previous yearís growth tend to be early flowering but there are also some Clematis that flower early on current seasonís growth so be careful to confirm the age of the wood.

If you think that your Clematis is flowering on shoots produced last year prune it immediately after flowering has finished.

This allows your Clematis a whole year to produce the wood that will flower at the same time next year. Prune back to a strong, healthy looking pair of buds. How low down the plant you prune is up to you, if you have spent many hours training your Clematis, through a trellis for example you might not want to waste all you hard work by cutting back to 6 inches from the ground.

As long as you prune to a healthy pair of buds, you cannot go wrong. As with any pruning, remove any dead or weak shoots.

Clematis Flowering on New Wood

These Clematis produce flowers on wood that is new, produced in the current growing season. They can flower at any time. Prune Clematis that flower on current seasonís wood in late Winter or early Spring. They can be pruned hard, often to within 6 inches of the ground. Just make sure you donít prune any lower than where you can see active signs of life i.e. pairís of plump, healthy growth buds.

Remember the harder you prune the more vigour this will generate in the plantís reaction, if you are brave you will be rewarded! Hard pruning of this type of Clematis will result in lots of new young shoots that will all produce flowers.

If your Clematis has grown 20ft along a Pergola, is very tangled, but flowers beautifully every year donít bother pruning it!


Filed under FAQs: Pruning.

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