When and how to prune clematis



What’s the best way to prune clematis

Clematis need regular pruning to encourage flowers to bloom and to keep them to a manageable size.

1. Pruning varies according to when a clematis flowers

2. So ask yourself when your clematis flowers before pruning

3. Then look at the pruning groups which are based on flowering times and follow the instructions

Clematis montana 'rubens
Clematis montana ‘Rubens’

Group 1 Early- Flowering Clematis. Flowering Time (February-May)

When to prune

These group 1 clematis bloom during the winter and spring on stems produced the previous year. Prune these clematis when flowering is finished (mid-to-late spring)

How to prune

They require little or no pruning. Remove weak or damaged shoots completely. If necessary, cut back about 1/3 of the oldest growth, pruning to a pair of leaves, to fit the available space.

Examples of group 1 clematis

  • Clematis alpina
  • Clematis armandii
  • Clematis cirrhosa
  • Clematis macropetala
  • Clematis montana

Clematis Dr. Ruppel
Clematis ‘Dr. Ruppel’

Group 2 Early Summer-Flowering Clematis. Flowering Time ( May-June)

When to prune

These group 2 clematis produce flowers in early summer. Prune these clematis in February when new, strong buds are visible. Postpone pruning if the weather is frosty.

How to prune

Remove dead stems completely. If possible cut them back to ground level. Cut the remaining stems back to the highest pair of strong, new buds.

Some examples of group 2 clematis

  • Clematis ‘Dr Ruppel’
  • Clematis ‘Miss Bateman’
  • Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’
  • Clematis ‘Niobe’
  • Clematis ‘The President’

Clematis Etoile Violette
Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’

Group 3 Late-Flowering Clematis. Flowering Time ( July – September )

How to prune

These group 3 clematis bear flowers in late summer, appearing on the current year’s stems. Prune these clematis in February when signs of growth are visible. Postpone pruning, if the weather is frosty.

How to prune

These are the easiest clematis to prune. Cut back all of last year’s stems to about 50cm above the ground, pruning to a strong pair of buds.

Some examples of group 3 clematis

  • Clematis ‘Comtesse de Bouchard’
  • Clematis ‘Durandii’
  • Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’
  • Clematis ‘Polish Spirit’
  • Clematis ‘Prince Charles’

Pruning newly purchased clematis

It is essential that newly planted clematis, regardless of its pruning group, are pruned back hard in the first year after planting.

Cut back all growth to 30cm about ground level. Do this job in early spring (February/March). This type of pruning will stimulate lots of stems.

After that follow the instruction for the pruning groups