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How to prune a Clematis

Clematis plants are often classified in groups according to their pruning requirements. The correct time for pruning clematis depends upon the type of flowering wood that the plant produces. Some will flower on the previous year's growth while others bloom on young shoots produced in the same year.

Knowing when to prune clematis will ensure you get the best flowering possible. If you are not sure which species you are growing, but you know when the clematis is in flower, then you can normally determine what type of pruning it will require according to these clematis pruning groups.

If you're not sure what the pruning group of your clematis is, all the clematis plants on our website have the pruning group stated on the product page. Browse our extensive range of Clematis plants for sale to find one that is perfect for your garden.

Clematis Pruning Group 1 - Early flowering clematis

Group 1 includes winter flowering clematis that bloom in winter and spring on the previous year's growth. These early flowering Clematis varieties include, Clematis alpina, Clematis macropetala, Clematis napaulensis, Clematis montana and their cultivars. This group also includes evergreen Clematis such as Clematis armandii.

Start pruning clematis from group 1 immediately after flowering. Remove any damaged or dead stems and reduce the remaining growth to fit the available space.

Clematis Pruning Group 2 - Large flowered clematis

The large flowered cultivars in group 2 bear flowers on new shoots that emanate from the previous year's stems in late spring and summer. Some cultivars will produce a second flush at the tips of the current year's growth in late summer and autumn.

Prune clematis from group 2 in spring before they start into active growth, and again in early summer after the first flush of flowers. In early spring, remove any damaged, dead or weak stems, cutting back to a pair of healthy buds. Avoid heavy pruning at this stage as you may reduce the early flowers.

In early summer, after the first flush of flowers has finished, prune back flowered stems to a set of strong healthy buds or a side shoot just below the faded blooms. This encourages healthy new growth. This is also the time to prune overgrown plants to reduce their size. Reduce overgrown plants gradually over several years.

Clematis Pruning Group 3 - Late flowering clematis

Group 3 contains the late flowering species and their cultivars that bloom from summer to late autumn on the current years stems. This group also contains the herbaceous clematis species.

Clematis in group 3 are arguably the easiest to prune. These plants can simply be cut back to a pair of strong buds about 20cm (8”) above ground level, removing all of the previous year's growth. Prune group 3 clematis in spring before they start into active growth.

Sue Sanderson

Written by: Sue Sanderson

Plants and gardens have always been a big part of my life. I can remember helping my Dad to prick out seedlings, even before I could see over the top of the potting bench. As an adult, I trained at Writtle College where I received my degree, BSc. (Hons) Horticulture. After working in a specialist plantsman's nursery, and later, as a consulting arboriculturalist, I joined Thompson & Morgan in 2008. Initially looking after the grounds and coordinating the plant trials, I now support the web team offering horticultural advice online.