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Knowing your Clematis - when to prune

I get lots of questions regarding clematis and how to keep them in shape or stop them overtaking your garden, well in essence there are 3 Clematis pruning groups, you will just need to check which group your clematis sits in then hopefully the details below will help you know when & how to prune and keep your plant in tip top shape.



Group 1 clematis flower on wood created the previous year. They therefore don’t require any pruning at all. Many Group 1 clematis flower in late winter and early spring, so they’re well-worth considering if you’re after some early colour in the garden. Plus, many Group 1 clematis have rich fragrance to appreciate, it’s my favourite group.


Clematis in Group 1 are those that flower on woody stems created the previous year, so don’t require pruning. However, if you’re growing a vigorous clematis in need of cutting back, such as Clematis montana ( pictured above ) you can cut them back immediately after flowering.


Group 2 clematis also flower on the previous year’s growth and should be lightly pruned in February. Simply remove damaged or weak stems to make way for fresh growth. Then trim other stems to just above the strongest and highest pair of buds. If cut back too hard, you’ll lose a year of flowers.


Clematis that flower in early summer (May and early June) and have large, showy (and sometimes double) flowers are in Pruning Group 2. This means that they need some light pruning in late winter or early spring, then again after flowering in summer.


In February or March (depending on the severity of the winter – check that you can see green buds beginning to swell), remove any dead or weak stems. Then cut back the remaining stems a little, to a healthy pair of buds. This will ensure that you enjoy flowers at eye level, rather than them all appearing at the top of the plant.


After the first flush of flowers in summer, prune back to a pair of buds halfway down the stems. This should encourage a second flush of flowers in late summer.

Pruning Group 2 clematis isn’t essential, but it will ensure evenly spread flowers, and a second flush



Group 3 clematis flower on the current season’s growth. Prune plants hard in early spring, before growth begins. Cut back plants to just above a healthy bud about 30cm from the soil. If you don’t prune Group 3 clematis, you’ll end up with a tangled mass of stems with flower growing only at the very top of the plant.

Clematis that flower in late summer, including Clematis cirrhosa jingle bells ( featured above ) one of my favourites as its a stunning evergreen and Clematis texensis, are in Pruning Group 3. This means that they need regular pruning, in February or March – just cut back all of the stems to 30cm above ground.


Pruning regularly will ensure that you can enjoy flowers at eye level, rather than them all appearing towards the top of the plant. It will also prevent a tangled mass of stems.


I sincerely hope this helps you all, please feel free to drop me a note if you need any further clarification as always and if you are considering buying a new clematis don’t forget to check which group yours is in, it maybe a reason to look then look again.

Then its over to you for some happy pruning sessions.

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