Posted by Brent Wilson on 8/30/2016 to Pruning Tips
Depending on the variety, a Clematis will belong to one of three pruning groups, each group involving a unique pruning method. So it's important to know to which group the clematis you intend on pruning belongs. If you know the variety name of the clematis you intend to prune, you can simply so a Google search to find the pruning group it belongs to. Use a search term such as "what pruning group is Jackmanii Clematis in?"
If you don't know the variety then the time of year the clematis blooms will often help to identify the pruning group. Or, you can take a photo of the flower and send it to us by way of our Contact Us form. We'll do our best to name it for you.
In the instructions provided below for each pruning group is a listing of some of the more popular clematis varieties within that group.
Pruning a Newly Planted Clematis
Prune your clematis the first spring after planting to 10 - 12 inches in height. This is very important to get your plant off to low branching and heavier flowering over the whole clematis vine.
Popular Varieties: Clematis alpina, Clematis armandii, Clematis x cartmanii, Clematis chrysocoma, Clematis cirrhosa, Clematis gracilifolia, Clematis indivisa, Clematis koreana, Clematis macropetala, Clematis montana, Pruinina, Rose O'Grady, White Swan
Clematis in pruning group 1 flower on last year's wood and therefore should not be cut down to near ground level (especially montanas, armandii, chrysocoma and gracilifolia which can be killed by hard pruning). They should be pruned as soon as possible after they finish flowering. Avoid pruning them after the end of July, so they have time to produce next year's flower buds before winter sets in. This group should be lightly pruned to remove all dead and wispy growth. Additional pruning can be performed to remove three or four year old wood to reduce the bulk of the plant. Cut each stem just above a pair of healthy buds.
Popular Varieties: Andromeda, Haku-okan, Multi Blue, Arctic Queen, H.E.Young, Myogo, Asao, Henryi, Nelly Moser, Barbara Dibley, Horn of Plenty, Niobe, Jackmanii, Josephine, Beauty of Richmond, Pink Fantasy, Beauty of Worcester, James Mason, Bee's Jubilee, John Paul II, Protteus, Burma Star, Kathleen Wheller, Rouge Cardinal, Royal Velvet, Royalty, Carnaby, Lady Caroline Nevell, Ruby Glow, Carnival Queen, Lady Londesborough, Charissma, Lady Norhcliffe, Sealand Gem, Corona, Serenata, Countess of Lovelace, Liberation, Silver Moon, Crimson King, Lincoln Star, Snow Queen, Daniel Doronda, Lord Nevill, Sugar Candy, Dawn, Louise Rowe, Sunset, Dr. Ruppel, Marcel Moser, Sylvia Denny, Duchess Of Edinburgh, Marie Boisselot, The President, Duchess Of Sutherland, Masquerade, The Vagabond, Will Goodwin
Clematis in Group 2 consist of all the early, large-flowered hybrid clematis that bloom in late spring or early summer and maybe again in late summer. Clematis in this group should be pruned lightly in late winter or early spring. Pruning consists of removing weak and crossing shoots then thinning down the plant to a structure of evenly spaced one and two year old stems. Cut each stem just above a pair of healthy buds. Plants in this group have the tendency to become bare at the base as they mature. You can under-plant with small shrubs or perennials to help conceal the bare stems. Alternatively, you can often force a flush of new growth from the base by cutting the vine back to 18 inches immediately after the flush of bloom.
An alternate method of pruning Group 2 clematis is to prune only every three or four years. In this case, the clematis should be pruned as described for Group 3 clematis. This will produce a weak first flush of flowers in the summer after pruning.
Popular Varieties: Clematis addisonii, Clematis viticella 'John Huxtable', Clematis x aromatica 'Alba Luxurians', 'Lady Betty Balfour', Clematis x bonstedtii 'Arabella', 'Lady Byrd Johnson', Clematis campaniflora 'Ascotiensis', 'Madame Edouard Andre', Clematis crispa 'Betty Corning', 'Madame Julia Correvon', Clematis x durandii 'Bill MacKenzie', 'Madame Grange', Clematis x eriostemon 'Black Prince', 'Margaret Hunt', lematis flammula 'Blue Angel', 'Margot Koster', Clematis terniflora "Sweet Auumn', Clematis 'Ernest Markam', Clematis 'Duschess of Albany, Clematis 'Comtesse De Bouchard', Clematis texensis.
Clematis in group 3 consist of late-flowering species that bloom from mid-summer into fall. This group flowers on the last 2 to 3 feet of the current season's growth (new wood). They are easy to prune because you do not need to maintain any old wood. In February or March, cut each stem to a height of 1 or 2 feet. Although you will be removing good stems and buds, this treatment keeps these vigorous growers in bounds. If not pruned, these vines will quickly become a mass of old diseased woody stems producing very few flowers. Always make sure to leave two good buds below where you make your cut. New growth will emerge from these buds to produce the current seasons vines and blooms.
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