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Regular pruning of clematis encourages strong growth and flowering and keeps the growth in check. Left unpruned, clematis can turn into a mass of tangled stems with a bare base and flowers well above eye level. Clematis in pruning group one flower early in the year and should be pruned after flowering in mid- to late spring.
Clematis 'Helsingborg' can be pruned after flowering. Credit: RHS/John Trenholm.
There are numerous clematis species, hybrids and cultivars, but for pruning purposes they are split into three distinct pruning groups based on the time of flowering and the age of the flowering wood.
Clematis in pruning group one flower early in the year on shoots produced in the previous summer.
Examples of clematis in pruning group one include: Clematis alpina AGMC. alpina 'Pamela Jackman'C. armandiiC. × cartmanii 'Avalanche'C. × cartmanii 'White Abundance'C. cirrhosaC. cirrhosa var. balearicaC. cirrhosa 'Freckles'C. cirrhosa 'Wisley Cream' AGMC. 'White Columbine' AGMC. 'Constance' AGMC. 'Frances Rivis' AGMC. macropetalaC. macropetala 'Blue Bird'C. 'Markham's Pink' AGMC. montanaC. 'Rosy O'Grady'C. 'Ruby'
For this group no regular pruning is required, but if necessary, prune immediately after flowering in mid- to late spring when the danger of frost has passed.
If young clematis plants are left unpruned they often produce very long single stems with the flowers produced only at the very top.
Unless the plant already has three or four healthy stems growing from the base, all newly planted clematis should be pruned back hard the first spring after planting. Cut back to just above a strong pair of leaf buds about 30cm (12in) above soil level. This will encourage multiple stems which can be trained to supports to give good coverage.
During the spring and summer, tie in new growth, spacing stems evenly on the support.
Clematis pruning: group twoClematis pruning: group three
British Clematis Society ClematisClematis: pruningClimbers: renovating overgrown plantsClimbers: training and pruning on plantingInternational Clematis Society
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