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How to Prune Clematis Vines


Growing Clematis in your landscape or garden is easier than you think and is sure to offer tons of enjoyment. Possible the most diverse flowering vine, due to all the breeding that has taken place to produce hundreds of different varieties. Single and double pedal, flowers, single color, bi-color, multi-color, as well as so many different flower shapes, it's easy to start collecting, and becoming obsessed with them. It seems some people have great success growing Clematis, while others not so much. I hope these growing tips help you to become more successful with this wonderful species of flowering perennial vines.

Correctly pruning your Clematis vines will maximize the abundance of flowers for the coming season. Clematis can be grouped into 3 different pruning categories.

Group 1: are mostly evergreen varieties of Clematis, found in zones 6-9. These varieties seldom die back and flower on last year’s growth. Most are early bloomers, because they do not have to grow new vines from the ground up. Light trimming to shape up the bulk of the plant is all that is required to keep this group healthy and actively producing large healthy flowers.

Group 2: are mainly the mid-season bloomers, like Nellie Moser. These also flower on last season’s growth as well as new season growth. These varieties can flower more than once in a season if conditions are favorable. Flowers will occur from the ground up to the top of the plant. Most double flowered varieties are in this group. One easy way to identify this group is by the new swelling leaf buds throughout the vines in early spring. As you inspect your vines look for dead stems with no live buds, these dead stems should be removed. Feel free to also remove any wild or wondering vines that are out of bounds.

Group 3: This group of Clematis only produce flowers on new growth from the current season. It is best to trim these back to the ground each year. Most of the late blooming varieties fall into this group. If you do not prune this group back most of the flowers will only be at the top of the plant. Since cutting the old vines off encourage new stems to grow your plant will remain healthy looking and will produce an abundance of flowers.

With all this said, pruning your clematis back to the ground every few years can help rejuvenate the plant and keep it looking fresh. I recommend liquid feed before the plant starts blooming and slow release after flowering. Clematis should receive 4-6 hours of sunlight and mulching or shading the root zone in southern states is recommended.


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