Clematis can be confusing to prune as not all types are pruned in the same way or at the same time of year. So here we have some tips about how to prune your clematis in spring and how to plant them in containers. Just remember the rhyme “If it flowers before June – don’t prune”. If you want your clematis to flower lower down, just cut them back closer to the ground.
The best time to plant clematis is in Autumn and early spring, but as long as you keep their roots cool they can be planted at any time. You can also plant clematis in containers and this video tells you more.
More Pruning Tips
Once you know the group your clematis is in, you can prune accordingly.
- Group 1 clematis – flower in the spring
- Group 2 clematis – these are repeat bloomers
- Group 3 clematis – flower in the summer or autumn
When to prune
Group 1 clematis flower in spring, on growth from the previous year. Prune them straight after they finish blooming in spring. The new stems that grow will then have enough time to make flower buds for the following year.
Group 2 clematis flower in late spring or early summer and then flower again on new shoots and old stems. There are two options when pruning Group 2 clematis:
- Severely prune the plant back by half in alternate years.
- Cut the whole plant back drastically every few years just before growth begins, with little or no pruning in the intervening time; this way you only lose the earliest blossoms in the season you prune.
Group 3 clematis flower in late summer or in the autumn on new growth produced earlier in the season. These are the easiest vines to prune. Just before growth begins at the start of the season, or as it is beginning, cut all stems back to strong buds within a foot or so of the ground.
A “do almost nothing” method can work with most clematis as long as you don’t mind an unmanageable plant. A drastic pruning every few years may sacrifice some blooms in the short term, but it will bring the plant to a more manageable size, get rid of old stems and stimulate young replacement stems that will put more flowers at eye level.