Clematis is a genus of popular, flowering vines, known for producing an abundance of showy, often very large flowers for a long period during the growing season. Pruning these vigorous vines is done for the purposes of taming dense tangles of old stems, controlling size, eliminating dead, damaged, or diseased wood, and stimulating new growth which keeps the plant vigorous and produces heavier flowering.
Clematis can be divided into three groups for purposes of pruning. The first step is to identify which type you have. Our Clematis varieties are listed on our website, along with the pruning information for each kind. If you don’t know which kind you have, you can probably figure out how to prune based on when your plant blooms.
These are early blooming types which flower in spring on last year’s growth, or old wood. They should be pruned after flowering by trimming out dead or damaged stems, and cutting back remaining stems to shape the plant and to fit the trellis or growing space. Pruning these to the ground in fall or spring before blooming will result in a loss of flowers for that year.
These types usually have large flowers and bloom late spring to early summer. The flowers are produced on the previous year’s growth, and often re-bloom again later in the summer on the current season’s new growth. To prune these, cut out any dead or damaged stems early in spring while still dormant; then, after flowering, trim the remaining stems back to strong buds. This will induce new growth that will produce flowers for the next year. Spent flowers can be deadheaded after blooming. More flowers will then appear on new growth later in summer. Cutting these to the ground in autumn or spring will sacrifice the first flush of flowers, but they will still bloom late in the season.
These are the late-flowering types which bloom on the current year’s growth, summer to autumn. Before growth starts in the spring, all stems should be pruned back to a pair of strong buds, about 6-10 inches from the ground. This will produce new, vigorous growth which will result in heavy flowering the same season.