Many people seem to think that there is some great mystery surrounding the pruning of clematis. We often have requests at the Nursery for “non-prune clematis”, from people who think that these are easier to take care of. Those who only grow “non-prune” varieties are missing out on many gems of the clematis world. It is also true that plants which require hard pruning are often much easier to look after in the long term, as each year they present us with fresh growth from top to bottom. We hope that the information on this page will encourage you to try plants from the three pruning groups.
This group is usually assocoiated with the evergreen and early spring flowering Clematis. It consists of merely removing weak and dead shoots at the end of winter to keep the plant tidy. If any control of growth is needed, this must be done immediately after flowering so that the new shoots have plenty of time to ripen during the summer as these plants flower on old wood from the previous year.
Prune group 1
Prune group 2
This group consists of the large flowered hybrids which flower first on old wood and then usually on new wood later in the summer. Again weak and dead shoots should be cut out in late winter - end of February or early March - and the remaining healthy stems need to be pruned back to where there are fat buds ready to burst into growth. These stems from the last year will produce the first crop of flowers, and most varieties will also give a second crop on new growth later in the season. It is possible to give a light pruning immediately after the first flowers to keep the plant tidy and encourage new growth for summer flowers.
Prune group 3
This is the “hard prune” section that worries some people, but it is really the easiest of all. This group consists of plants which flower on the current season’s growth from midsummer onwards. They can be cut back almost to ground level or to the lowest buds in early spring. Also included are herbaceous clematis which die back and so grow fresh from the ground each year.
There are very many worthwhile plants in all three categories, which, if carefully chosen could mean that you could have clematis in flower virtually all year round in your garden.