Clematis: pruning

Regular pruning of clematis encourages strong growth and flowering and keeps the growth in check. If left unpruned, clematis can turn into a mass of tangled stems with bare base and flowers well above eye level.

Tieing in clematic stems

Quick facts

Suitable for Most clematis
Timing The main pruning season is late winter to early spring, but some can also be pruned in early summer after their first flush of flowers
Difficulty Easy to moderate

Suitable for...

Although there are numerous clematis species, hybrids and cultivars, for pruning purposes they are split into three distinct pruning groups based on the time of flowering and the age of the flowering wood.

When to prune clematis

Prune at the following times;

  • Pruning Group 1: Prune mid- to late spring, after flowering and once the risk of frost has passed
  • Pruning Group 2: Prune in February and after the first flush of flowers in early summer
  • Pruning Group 3: Prune in February

Pruning clematis

Pruning Group 1

This group comprises the early-blooming clematis that flower on shoots produced the previous season. They require no regular pruning except for the removal of faded flowers.  In subsequent years some training and perhaps thinning may be necessary. If renovation is required, plants can be cut back to 15cm (6in) from the base, after flowering.  This operation will affect flowering and should not be carried out again within three years. 

Click here for detailed advice on pruning this group of clematis

Pruning Group 2

This group comprises the large-flowered cultivars that flower in May to June on short shoots developing from the previous year's growth. Some flower again in late summer on new growth. They require only to have the flowers cut off, back to a large growth bud immediately below the flower as soon as flowering is over.  They can, if preferred, be left unpruned other than for the removal of dead shoot ends in spring. 

Click here for detailed advice on pruning this group of clematis

Pruning Group 3

This group comprises clematis that flower from mid- to late summer on the terminal 60cm (2ft) or so of the current year’s growth. If this type is left unpruned growth will continue from where it ended the previous season, resulting in a tangled mass of growth, flowering often well above eye level and stems bare at the base.  These late-flowering clematis are best pruned back hard in February each year to the lowest pair of buds.

Click here for detailed advice on pruning this group of clematis

Combining Pruning Groups 2 or 3

Some mid- to late summer flowering clematis may be pruned by combining method 2 and 3, to retain a basic framework while cutting other stems to the base.  This extends the flowering season.

Examples: 'Comtesse de Bouchaud AGM’, ‘Gipsy Queen AGM’, ‘Hagley Hybrid’, ‘Jackmanii ’, ‘Jackmanii Superba’, 'John Huxtable AGM’, ‘Perle d’Azur’, ‘Rouge Cardinal’ and ‘Star of India’.

Herbaceous Clematis

Prune herbaceous clematis such as C. heracleifolia, C. integrifolia and C. recta to near ground level in late autumn or early spring.


Powdery mildew is very common on clematis and clematis wilt is also sometimes seend. Pruned stems may fail to reshoot and ooze a sticky substance – this is known as slime flux.Occasionally clematis produce green petals or flowers.

Pests to watch for include vine weevil, slugs, snails, aphid, capsid bug and earwigs.

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  • Leswri avatar

    By Leswri on 08/05/2014

    I have clematis Montana Rubens growing on our railings at the front of the house. These railings nerd painting. Is it ok to prune this clematis right back in order for us to get to the railings??

  • Nibs avatar

    By Nibs on 11/05/2014

    I don't know if this is the correct page but I desperately need advice about a camellia plant. I was given said plant in a healthy living condition, about 2ft tall and 11/2 ft across, it had lots of leaves and buds. I made the dreadful mistake of putting it in the ground watering and feeding it. I've since moved it to a pot with the correct soil, watered using rainwater I've managed to catch for it but all it's leaves have dropped off and the buds have gone brown. Have I killed it? Will it live? How do I look after it from now on to ensure it flowers next year if it's still living? Is there anything I can do to save this plant? I'm gutted at its condition, I'm usually pretty good with plants but didn't realise camellias need careful attention. Thank you for any advice

  • maureen avatar

    By maureen on 14/05/2014

    I have a 20 yr old apple tree full of blossom this year looking very healthy ,but blossom has suddenly died and most of the leaves , tree next to it has some browning of leaves and blossom can anyone advice.

    0 replies

  • syd avatar

    By syd on 15/05/2014

    Hi, have just registered and need some advice please? I remember seeing a product ages ago that was a watering gadget, you placed it in the plant soil, and it had a type of tear drop feature that changed colour when it needed watering or not ... does anybody know of this?

    0 replies

  • Deborahallen avatar

    By Deborahallen on 15/05/2014

    Shady Climbers - any ideas gratefully received! I have a very un-sunny spot against my house (north facing) where most things struggle to grow. I have tried looking up woodland climbers and suggestions have been honeysuckle (tried this and was too susceptible to mildew) not keen to put Ivy up the wall which was the other suggestion. I've had a few Clematis but they get chomped by snails so keen to move away from that too. Does anyone have any suggestions would thrive in such shady conditions but snail repellant? Many thanks

  • peterh avatar

    By peterh on 19/05/2014

    I recently planted out my runner beans in a freshly dug bed that had well rotted horse manure dug in about four months earlier. Now, two weeks on, they are turning yellow, both on the old leaves but also on the newly formed ones. Likewise, I have had the same problem with some courgette plants that I have put in. I have tried feeding them with liquid feed as it looks like mineral deficiency but this seems to have no effect. Does anyone have any ideas as to what might be causing this? Adjacent beds with my broad beans, sugar snap peas, asparagus and artichokes are all looking really healthy having had exactly the same treatment.

  • Rebcca avatar

    By Rebcca on 31/05/2014

    My box hedge is sending waves of blue dust off when I brush it with my hand. Any ideas anyone. I need to treat it with something. Its is shooting from the sides but not the top. Advice really appreciated

    0 replies

  • Hardy avatar

    By Hardy on 10/06/2014

    Having reluctantly cut down an Acer with a large spreading canopy, my husband left about 3 foot of trunk to remove it and dig out the roots. Problem is that it's now shooting all up the trunk - do I leave it and give another shot or will it just look stupid?? The trunk it just straight up and as Acers don't like pruning I never imagined it would re-sprout!!!

    0 replies

  • bb avatar

    By bb on 17/06/2014

    I have left it far too late to grow poppies from seed for the church centenary service in August. Can anyone tell me where I might buy some plants which are well established now for use in a poppy Labyrinth please?

    0 replies

  • Sallyann avatar

    By Sallyann on 17/06/2014

    Hi, my parents have an apple tree in their garden which grew from pip/discarded core. It is approximately 8 years old. The fruit on it in 2012 was a type of russet and in 2013 a form of cox(!) There is just that tree in that spot and it hasn't been grafted. Can anyone shed any light on this please?

    0 replies

  • HelenW avatar

    By HelenW on 21/06/2014

    We have a lovely Bramley Apple that up until 2 years ago produced brilliant fruit each year. It has however become overrun by wooly aphid and despite our best efforts (repeat spraying with Provado) and feeding, the aphids are out of control and we've had no flowers or fruit for 2years. What else can we do to get this under control? Thank you, any help appreciated.

    0 replies

  • GKD73 avatar

    By GKD73 on 21/06/2014

    I have a brachyglottis growing well in sunny spot, well established. It has never flowered, any advice how I could encourage it to do so?

    0 replies

  • Mrs A Duddin avatar

    By Mrs A Duddin on 26/06/2014

    Japanese Acer Disease I have a white fungus on my Japanese Acer it looks as if it is starting to dry out the branches and kill my tree, can anyone help, thanks

    0 replies

  • anonymous avatar

    By anonymous on 27/06/2014

    Nicole Hain 27/6/2014 All my roses have new growth what should I do, should I prune?

    0 replies

  • MeilD avatar

    By MeilD on 06/07/2014

    Does anyone know how to care and propogate narrow leaf gold dust "punctatum" Croton plant?

    0 replies

  • Biddybeth avatar

    By Biddybeth on 06/07/2014

    Hi, I had 5 - 8ft bay shrubs planted as a screen two weeks ago. I have watered them everyday but a lot of the leaves has turned yellow and are dropping off. Help!! What am I doing wrong?

    0 replies

  • Precious avatar

    By Precious on 16/07/2014

    Hi, just joined today, just want to know can I plant poppy paeony in hanging basket? Just thought I may try it and see the outcome?any advise?

    0 replies

  • Ivanhoe avatar

    By Ivanhoe on 19/07/2014

    There are far too many off-topic posts in these comments on a page about pruning clematis. A sign that the old forum is much missed.

    0 replies