To keep a clematis plant healthy, within its allotted space and flowering well, it will need to be pruned.
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Clematis pruning may seem complicated, but it isn’t really. The only really difficult part is working out which group your plants falls into, as each group has different pruning needs. There are three groups. If the plant label doesn’t state which group it belongs to, then the flowering time is your best guide.
Group 1. These are winter or spring flowering clematis and include, alpina, macropetalata, montana, armandii and cirrhosa. Some are evergreen, some deciduous.
These don’t need pruning unless they grow too big for their space, or become ‘leggy’ that is, bare at the base with all growth tangled at the top. Simply trim back immediately after flowering. They can be cut back quite hard if required, or just given a light trim and any old or dead pieces removed.
Group 2. These are the early, large flowered hybrid clematis. These include, Nelly Moser, Niobe, Ernest Markham, Lasurstern, Multi Blue, The President, Carnaby, Dr Ruppel and Bees Jubilee.
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These should be trimmed each year. Remove any old, dead or damaged shoots and then cut the rest back to a healthy pair of buds. This can be done any time from late autumn until early spring. It’s often best to wait until new growth has just started as it will be easier to see which buds are likely to produce strong growth.
If required, overgrown plants may be cut back hard, but flowering will either be delayed, or lost in that year.
Group 3. These are the late flowering kinds. Generally the flowers are smaller than group 2, but larger than group 3. This group includes, viticella, texensis, intergifolia, orientalis (orange peel or lantern clematis) and Jackmanii hybrids.
Some of these clematis die back naturally, just as herbaceous perennials do. In that case, just remove all dead top growth before new growth starts in spring. The others can be cut back quite hard, right down to the first pairs of strong buds above the ground on each shoot. If only trimmed lightly, the plants will flower earlier, but less profusely and are more likely to become untidy and leggy plants.
Published in: Gardening