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.
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” 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.
This one is my 20 year old Clematis “Jackmanii”.
It’s been hard pruned periodically (in the fall, whoops) , and keeps coming back bushier and fuller each year.
One of my recent clematis plantings is a clematis “Sugar Candy”.
This a type 2 clematis and hasn’t been pruned at all since it was planted.
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?