Checking in on the Clematis

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

One of my favorite plants in my garden are my clematis. I love how they climb and burst forth in mountains of delightful color.  Every year I worry about if they’ll make it through the winter, but so far so good. One of them I’ve had since we moved into the house almost 20 years ago. It’s moved a couple of times, but it’s no worse for the wear.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

I also worry a lot about pruning as well.  I just feel like I’m going to do it wrong and somehow kill it, or permanently wreck it.  So more often than not, I do nothing for a while and then timidly prune some off.  Instead, pruning clematis is necessary to keep it healthy and blooming profusely.

When and how to prune depends on what type it is.  It is also important to prune a young clematis the first 2 years to encourage strong roots to support a strong plant.  While tempting (and commonly done here), clematis should also not be pruned in the fall in colder climates since any warm weather will stimulate growth too early.

There’s lots of great websites describing how to prune a clematis, but simply put:

  • Type A or 1 blooms in early spring and should be pruned lightly to remove dead wood and neaten up the plant after blooming.  Flower buds are set the previous year on old wood.
  • Type B or 2 blooms in late spring or early summer and then sporadically after.  These can be pruned by thinning in very early spring and then again after the bloom.  Or, if really unruly, they can be cut back more severely to about a foot before any new growth begins.
  • Type C  or 3 tends to bloom in early to late summer.  These are the easiest to prune.  Before new growth begins cut the entire plant back to about a foot.

I think I can handle this. A little more care and my clematis will look even more spectacular!

This Clematis “Jackmanii” has been moved a few times and was the slowest to bud this year.  I was worried it was dead, but happily buds began to emerge a couple of weeks ago.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"








Clematis “Jackmanii” is a Type 3 clematis for pruning.  Last week, once the new growth was established and I new it was alive, I took the opportunity to prune back the tangled mess of dead wood above the new growth.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

This one is my 20 year old Clematis “Jackmanii”.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"


It’s been hard pruned periodically (in the fall, whoops) , and keeps coming back bushier and fuller each year.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

One of my recent clematis plantings is a clematis “Sugar Candy”.

Clematis "Sugar Candy"

This a type 2 clematis and hasn’t been pruned at all since it was planted.

Clematis "Sugar Candy"


It could probably use some freshening up, so I will give it a bit of a “haircut” this year after it has bloomed, and then again in the early spring next year.

My newest one is unknown.  Somehow in less than 6 months, I have lost the name tag.  It is a clearance plant I got last fall, so I’m glad it came back this spring.  It’s going to be a nice surprise when it blooms and I can try to identify it.  I’l have a better idea as to how to prune it when I figure out what it is.



Do you have any clematis in your yard?  Are you comfortable pruning it?

4 responses to “Checking in on the Clematis

  1. I have a jackmanii clematis which is easy to prune because I just cut it back in March. You’ve got a nice selection.

    • After researching what I had and how to prune them, it does seem like jackmanii are one of the easier (and I think prettier) clematis. I’m all ready for next year!

  2. Beautiful pics. Clematis is one of my favorites. I’m truly an amateur gardener & most of my garden was either a markdown or given to me so I don’t know the botanical name. The first two Clematis I owned I killed. The third one was doing great until we had a horrible rainy summer and it got rust. I was going to throw it out because it hasn’t done well since when I decided to move it and it’s coming along wonderfully. I just purchased two more tiny ones at a discount store. There was no info on when they bloom….just their common names…..whew! Sorry. I wrote a book!

    • That’s too bad about your first ones. I moved a couple of mine that I was sure was on their last leg and they were fine. I think they are often much hardier than they seem. Good luck with the new ones. My unnamed clearance one seems to be doing great. Already has giant buds! I bet you can find yours online and get all the growing and info. Lots of good clematis growing info out there.

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