When to Prune Clematis | Love The Garden

When to Prune Clematis

LifeofRyrie's picture
By Sarah Ryrie, Gardening Enthusiast
clematis climbing plant

Whatever variety of Clematis you choose, pruning is a key part of successful growth and bountiful blooming. Many gardeners are confused by when to prune Clematis and how to do it, so we've put together this guide for you to follow on when and how to prune Clematis.

When Does Your Clematis Flower?

Clematis Climber in Flower

Do you know when your clematis breaks into bloom? If you do then you will be able to work out when the best time for pruning will be. Clematis are split into three pruning groups according to the flowering season. If you are unsure when your Clematis blooms, the best thing to do is wait until the first flowers appear, note the month and then you will be able to work out what group your clematis belongs to. Don’t just go ahead and hack the stems down thinking that it won’t matter, as this may well cause irreversible damage to the plant.

Clematis Pruning Groups

Clematis Pruning Group 1

Flowers through the Winter and in the Spring. Varieties include the Deciduous Alpine, Macropetala and evergreens such as Armandii and Cirrhosa.

Clematis Pruning Group 2

Flowers through late Spring and Summer and those which flower twice (once in early Spring and again late Summer). Varieties in this group include the large flowered Nelly Moser, Niobe, Bees Jubilee, Aneta and Princess Charlotte.

Clematis Pruning Group 3

Flowers late summer. Varieties in this group include Jackmanii, Minuet, Prince George and Viticella.

When to Prune Clematis

All newly planted Clematis with just one or two healthy base stems, should be given a hard pruning the first spring after planting. For established Clematis, follow the Clematis pruning group's dates as follows:

When to Prune Group 1 Clematis

This is the no pruning category (hooray). These varieties don’t need to be pruned regularly to provide you with an abundance of growth and blooms.

When to Prune Group 2 Clematis

Pruning should take place at some point in February (late Winter - early Spring). If the variety flowers twice, then a second pruning should take place in early Summer (May - June) after the first flush of blooms.

When to Prune Group 3 Clematis

Pruning should take place in February (late Winter - early Spring).

How to Prune Clematis

pink clematis flowers

All newly planted Clematis can be pruned back to about 30cm above the ground, in the first spring following planting. This should encourage strong stem growth and a good base for future growth of the plant. Ensure that this hard pruning takes place after the risk of frost has passed around March. For established Clematis plants follow the group pruning guide as follows:

How to Prune Group 1 Clematis

  • Although this group of Clematis doesn’t need any regular pruning, it's good to remove dead flower heads and any damaged stems when flowering has finished.
  • If the plant is outgrowing the space you intend it to fill, then some light pruning can be carried out as soon as flowering comes to an end and after the risk of frost has passed. Don’t cut down to the ground, as this will more than likely kill the plant.
  • During the summer months tie in any new growth to keep the plant tidy and this will also help to prevent any stems breaking.
  • Vigorous Clematis varieties can be sheared annually once flowering has finished to keep neat and tidy.

How to Prune Group 2 Clematis

  • This group requires regular pruning to encourage good growth and plentiful blooms at eye level. The early pruning (in February) should just be with the aim of removing dead wood and weak shoots. Check down the stems and cut just above a healthy bud. Don’t prune too hard otherwise you won’t get any early flowers.
  • Once the first flowering has occurred then prune back to the flowered shoots and this will encourage new growth ready for the second batch of blooms.
  • If the plant has become tangled or too large, now is the time to start cutting back. Don’t be too harsh though as this may affect any future growth, it is best to renovate the Clematis over a couple of years instead of in one go. Doing this may reduce the chances of a second round of flowering, but it will make the plant stronger and hopefully more abundant in the following year.

How to Prune Group 3 Clematis

  • This group of Clematis need hard pruning annually. Cut back all old stems to the first pair of healthy buds, usually around 15-30cm above ground level. If left without any pruning, these Clematis will become top heavy and have few, if any, flowers at eye level.

What to do After Pruning Clematis

When a plant has suffered the trauma of pruning, it is a good idea to give it a good feed to help recovery. A potassium rich or rose fertiliser would be ideal.

Do you have a Clematis of which you are particularly proud? We’d love to see your photos, you can share them on our Facebook page or Twitter. Also if you have any great tips for growing or pruning?

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