Pruning Clematis

(Question)

I am calling with regard to a climbing clematis vine which runs up the side of my porch. Do I cut down for winter or  leave as is. I’m not sure what to do and I don’t want to cut it if I’m supposed to leave it. Its about 6 feet tall.

 

 

(Answer)

Clematis can be a confusing group of plants to prune, since they are not all pruned the same way. Clematis generally fall into three different categories, based on bloom time. They bloom on either last seasons growth or on new growth. You will need to determine which variety of clematis you have growing by your porch before going ahead and pruning.

1) Early flowering clematis

Early flowering clematis typically bloom in April and May, from buds produced during the last growing season. Prune these plants immediately after blooming, but no later than the end of July in order to give the plant enough time to produce new buds for next year. Start by removing shoots that have bloomed. If necessary remove dead or damaged stems. If growth is congested then cut out older stems to the base and thin the rest. Avoid cutting far into the main woody trunks. Cutting off too much may affect next years flowering. This group includes C. alpina, C. macropetala, C. armandii, C. montana, and C. chrysocoma.

2) Large-flowered/mid season clematis

Large flowered hybrids like ‘Nelly Moser,’ ‘Miss Bateman,’ Lasurstern,’ and ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’ bloom in mid-June on stems from the previous season and often will bloom again in late summer on new growth, though these blooms tend to be smaller. Remove dead or weak stems in late winter or early spring, leaving the best of last year’s buds. Once they finish blooming, deadhead all bloom stems or cut the plant back to 12-18” to force new growth for a second round of flowers.

3) Late flowering clematis

This group’s flowers are produced on the current season’s growth and are the easiest to prune. Some types begin blooming as early as June and continue into the fall. This group contains the greatest number of clematis. In late winter or early spring, cut the plant back to 24-36” since no old wood needs to be maintained. Varieties like C. x jackmanii, C. viticella, C. flammula, ‘Royal Velours,’ and ‘Duchess of Albany’ fall into this category.

 

For further information read:

https://www.finegardening.com/pruning-clematis

https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/homeowners/031004.html