How to Prune a Clematis for Optimal Growth

Clematis are a great addition to any garden, but they can be a bit finicky when it comes to pruning. Learn how to prune your clematis for optimal growth and flowering with these easy tips.

Checkout this video:

Why prune a clematis?

Pruning a clematis encourages new growth, which results in more flowers. The plant will also be more compact and have a fuller appearance. Proper pruning also helps to prevent the clematis from becoming overgrown and leggy.

The three types of pruning

Pruning a clematis is a bit different than pruning other climbing plants because there are three different types of pruning that you can do. The three types of pruning are light pruning, medium pruning, and heavy pruning. The type of pruning that you do will depend on the time of year and the type of plant that you have.

Type 1: Non-flowering

Pruning type 1 clematis is geared more towards maintaining the overall health of the plant, as opposed to encouraging flowers. Non-flowering type 1 clematises should be pruned in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. Using sharp, clean shears, cut back all the previous year’s growth to about 12 inches (30 cm) from the ground. Be sure to remove any dead or damaged stems as well.

Type 2: Flowering in spring

Flowering in spring: This type of pruning should be carried out immediately after the flowering period. Clematis of this type generally flower on last year’s wood, so if you cut back too early you will sacrifice the flowers. The reason for pruning is to encourage strong new growth that will flower the following year. Cut back to just above a strong pair of leaves, about 30cm (12in) from the ground.

Type 3: Flowering in summer or autumn

Cut back the previous year’s growth by about two-thirds, making sure to remove any weak, spindly or dead stems. This will encourage the plant to produce plenty of strong new growth, which will flower well the following year.

How to prune a clematis

Pruning a clematis is a simple process that can be done in just a few steps. The most important thing to remember when pruning a clematis is to never remove more than one-third of the plant. This will ensure that the plant has enough leaves to photosynthesize and produce food for the roots. It will also help the plant to bounce back more quickly from the pruning.

Type 1: Non-flowering

If your plant flowers on last year’s wood (old wood), wait to prune until after it blooms in the spring. You can remove up to one-third of the plant without compromising its health or its ability to flower. To encourage lots of flowers, cut back the stems that flowered last year by about one-half.

Type 2: Flowering on both old and new wood
If your plant flowers on both new and old wood (current season’s growth), you can prune it any time from late winter to early summer without affecting the bloom. For the most profuse display of flowers, cut back all the flowering stems by about one-half in late winter or early spring.

Type 2: Flowering in spring

Flowering in spring on last year’s wood
Type 2 clematis bloom in early to late spring on last year’s wood (old stems that grew the previous season). This group includes some of the most popular varieties, like ‘The President’, ‘Jackmanii’, and ‘Niobe’. Because they set their flower buds in late summer or early fall, you should wait to prune them until after they bloom.

To encourage strong growth and plenty of flowers, thin out a third to a half of the oldest stems all the way back to the ground every year. This will also promote air circulation, which helps prevent clematis wilt.

Type 3: Flowering in summer or autumn

Pruning group 3 clematis flowers on old wood, in late summer or autumn. For example, the large-flowered cultivars ‘Nelly Moser’, ‘Warsaw Nike’, and ‘Betty Corning’. In regions with very cold winters, it is best to wait until spring to prune these plants. This type of clematis can also be left unpruned if desired.

When to prune a clematis

You can encourage a bushy growth habit and prevent your plant from getting leggy by pruning it back hard in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins.

Type 1: Non-flowering

If your plant blooms on new growth (after last year’s flowers have faded), wait until all of the flowers have died back, then prune it back to about 12 inches (30 cm) above the ground. This will encourage new growth and more flowers next season. Do this type of pruning in late winter or early spring.

Type 2: Flowering
If your plant blooms on old wood (last year’s growth), it should be pruned immediately after flowering, while the plant is still actively growing. Cut back all of the shoots that flowered, to about 2 buds from the main stem. This will encourage new growth and more flowers next season.

Type 2: Flowering in spring

The second flowering season is in spring on the previous year’s wood. This type of pruning is called “hard pruning” because you are removing a large amount of plant material. You should prune back to about 6-12 inches (15-30 cm.) above ground level in late winter or very early spring, before new growth begins.

Type 3: Flowering in summer or autumn

If your clematis blooms in summer or autumn, it’s likely a Type 3. This includes most of the large-flowered varieties, such as ‘Polish Spirit’, ‘Ernest Markham’ and ‘Jackmanii’. Type 3s flower on the previous year’s wood, so they should be pruned in late winter or early spring.

First, cut back any dead, diseased or weak stems to ground level. Then cut back the main stems by about one-third to an outward-facing bud. Finally, thin out any crowded side shoots.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like