All Information About Tips To Prune Clematis For Best Growth

To have a clematis plant is the desire of most of the gardeners, but to prune clematis becomes one of the biggest headaches too. Growing a clematis plant is easy but how to prune clematis becomes a huge task to accomplish because you don’t want to put their blooms at risk. The clematis vine has so many spindles that can easily puzzle anyone as to where to begin the pruning from?

Not just that, but there are special pruning demands of every other variety and specie of clematis that add up to the complexity. There is a growing trend where the gardeners prefer including flowering plants and climbers in their lawns, and the clematis makes up to be a very popular choice for it blooms beautifully. For keeping the notorious blooms in a healthy state, you need to be very careful with the care imparted and it is exactly that we aim to help you with.

We are going to give you a detailed set of instructions that will meet all your clematis pruning related inquiries.


prune clematis

They belong to the group of flowering vines that have been very popular among home-grown gardens. There are many species of this plant that include deciduous and woody vines along with evergreen and the herbaceous trails too. The species also vary among themselves with regards to the blooming seasons, forms, and color pattern of the flowers.

Clematis is the name of the genus which belongs to the Ranunculaceae family, also known as the buttercup family. Out of a total of around 250 cultivars and species, the garden cultivars “clematis x jackmanii” are known to mostly belong to China and Japan. The name has been derived from the Greek term Clematis that means “climbing plant”.

These plants mostly grow in the temperate belt but can also be found existing in the tropics. Now there are groups of the clematis plant that have been made keeping in mind their different blooming seasons. It is very important to know the group to which your clematis plant belongs to as it will help you to prune them at the right time.

Group I

These plants flower during early spring. The buds start to grow over old wood from the previous season itself. The plant doesn’t wither as the frost arrives.

Species- C. alpina, C. armandii, C. macropetala, C. Montana, C. napaulensis, C. urophylla or Winter Beauty, etc.

Group II

These plants are mostly the rebloomers as the flower bloom over old wood. The season to see the bloom is late spring and early summers. You can see them blooming again even during late summers or winter over the old stems or the new shoots.

Species- C. florids, C. Snow Queen, C. Sylvia denny. Etc.

Hybrid cultivars- Bees’ Jubilee, General Sikorski. Nelly Moser, Henryi, The President, Niobe, Will Goodwin, etc.

Group III

Their flowers grow over new wood that belongs to the season gone. They bloom during the summers and the fall as well. Upon the arrival of winter, they wither away into the ground.

Species- C. durandii, C. integrifolia, C. tangutica, C. terniflora, C. viticella, C. texensis, etc.

Hybrid cultivars- Jackmanii, Gipsy Queen, Ernest Markham, Ville de Lyon, Ashva, Kardynal Wyszynski, etc.

What is the need to prune clematis?

As we know that the clematis plants blossom heavily, it is very necessary to prune them if you want a checked growth. Long pending pruning also leads to dead steams crowding the plant that inhibits fresh flower growth. However, the flowers when left to grow unchecked in the vigorous varieties can pull the tree down or even its support structure.

To prune clematis has many benefits- growth stimulation, more flower growth, blooming at the right level of height, healthy vine, etc. Pruning also prevents wilt, fungus rot in the stem, and other diseases. The growth only emerges out of the healthy tissues.

The dense tangles when pruned open the shoots and enable them to receive more light and air. The leaves also need to be pruned as they promote diseases by retaining moisture.

What are some general tips to follow before pruning clematis?

A very important to note at the beginning- any variety of clematis must be pruned up till the size of almost 5 inches above the ground during the early spring or late winter season. This should be done in the first year of their plantation. This is essential for a stronger, bushier, and a low flowering plant.

Pruning in the second year is good for group 1 and 2 clematis gives better blooms but skip it for group 3 as it’s unnecessary. Pruning post-bloom only aims at shaping the plant. If possible, do not remove the woody stems. Take care of the blooming season and plant group before pruning, that’s a must-do.

Do not remove the germinating buds at all. You can afford to avoid pruning during some years of growth. Take time to understand the natural growth pattern of the plant and adopt a pruning strategy accordingly. When it comes to deadheading, decide if you want to do that or not as it energizes flower growth but inhibits the natural growth of seedheads.

How to go about pruning clematis?

How To Go About Pruning Clematis?

The TRP of any clematis plant is its flowers and to keep them blooming forever is the main aim of pruning. We have already grouped the different types of clematis plants for you. Now you need to see which category does your clematis belong to and that what is its blooming season.

If you are not sure of this as you have just started it, let the plant blossom for around a year. Make note of the blooming time and the type of flowers that are being produced.

Let’s see how to prune clematis as per their categorical needs:

Pruning Group I clematis

This category has the early blooming clematis. The right time to prune them is when they have finished blooming right after the end of the spring season. This way the new flower buds will have enough time to grow over the stems that will grow next year.

You should take care as to not cut the too old wood more than enough. This will impact the generation of new shoots and that would, in turn, the flower blossoming pattern for the coming year. The ideal time to prune them can be around the end of the month of July.

Another thing to keep in mind is the vigor of the plant for deciding the amount of pruning it needs. You must also see the size of the support that the plant is taking alongside. The basic rule is that the more the speed of the plant’s growth, the more cutting it allows.

The species that grow fast like the C. armandii allow their pruning up till the smallest of size. The slow-growth species like C. alpine and others can do with very less pruning. Then there are some bloomers who have a very reluctant stem that hinder re-flowering if cut too much, so you should be careful with such varieties of clematis.

You must cut the withered wood back and compress the leftover enough so as to make it fit into the space available. This allows the shoots that will emerge next year to bear the flowers better. Pruning also impacts the shape in which they grow.

Note that whatever be the case, the shoots that emerge post-pruning will blossom only in the next season that follows. So you can understand that if you want the flowers to appear sooner, then you shall cut the stems short accordingly.

Pruning Group II clematis

These clematis plants are the large- flower ones. The apt time to prune these vines can be around early spring because the flowers blossom over the stems that grow in the running year. You need to have a bit more refined pruning skills while dealing with these clematis vines as the right time matters with these dual blooming plants.

There are two types of blooms- vines blooming during the late springtime over the old stems and vines blooming during the late summertime over the newly germinating stems. Now cutting them can go wrong in two ways. Trimming them too much post-first bloom immediately impacts their growth in summers while cutting them just before the growth starts harms their spring blossom.

You should do the first pruning before the growth occurs in the early springtime or late winter. The next round shall be taken in the early summer or late spring where you can shorten the stems with faded flowers. If your plant blooms in the latter part of the season more then you can go for heavy pruning the stems that grow before the spring.

They should be trimmed moderately but every year as they grow very heavy with the flowers. Trim the required length and you can go up till the best buds, remove all the deadwood, and be careful so as to not cut down the tender new promising buds. These plants forgive a bit harsher pruning and will still give you a flower show in the late seasons.

You can also try pruning these vines into half the size alternatively. Another option can be to prune the entire plant heavily before they start to grow at a gap of a few years during which they lie totally dormant.

Pruning Group III clematis

These plants belong are the late flowering ones. The approach to pruning them is quite different as they grow on the current growth. They die and subsume in the same ground, so pruning them serves the purpose of preventing the aftermath of a rotting dead plant.

The first thing to mention is that these vines grow very vigorously even to the extent of becoming invasive. So it would be advisable to prune them every year and that too aggressively. They are very easy to prune, just trim them before the growth begins in the spring season.

You can cut them down till the strongest buds remain only or maybe just a foot above the ground. However, you have the option to avoid this regressive cutting in case you want the plant to grow into a high tree with blossoms spilling everywhere.

Some of the cultivars of this category bloom early and continue for long when spared cutting.

If you are okay with a wild vine, then you are open to adopting the option of totally skipping pruning. Rigorous pruning in some years can help to manage the size of the plant and tame the flower bloom too. The old stems are removed that way, young stems get stimulated and the flower bloom in the visible area.

Watch this video to understand better.

What are the special precautions with pruning clematis?

Don’t be too afraid while pruning. The clematis can grow into becoming a weed if left unpruned.

Take some time out of your busy schedule for the pruning sessions despite the clematis being accommodating to a considerable level.

You can only afford little pruning if the time is not right. Wrong timing along with hard pruning can lead to the loss of bloom that year.

Prune hard enough for maintaining the size of the plant if you have no idea about anything else. The slow growers shall be treated very carefully.

Be cautious and see if there are more of developing buds. If it is the case, then the time is not right for pruning.

Final words

So, this article was all about how important it is to prune clematis as it serves as the foundation of a good growing plant. We dealt with all the important aspects related to how to prune clematis and also gave you the necessary tips to start right from the beginning itself. We assure you won’t go wrong with these measures.

The key, as it is, to prune the right clematis plant at the right time to get a garden of ever-blossoming trails.

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