Clematis are hardy vines with beautiful, showy flowers. Clematis bloom on old wood, making pruning crucial to achieving the best possible blooms each season. Three different blooming habits exist within the clematis family and each needs to be pruned at a specific time to achieve the very best blooms for the coming year. When planted in the right location and pruned correctly, a clematis is hardy as far north as US Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zone 3 and will often live 25 years or more.
- Moderately Easy
- Choose a site to plant the clematis that is in full sun or dappled midday shade where air can flow freely around the plant. Select a well-drained site that features rich soil with a neutral pH. Cut the stem back until the plant is 12 inches tall.
- Prune the clematis yearly at the appropriate time. Prune early-flowering clematis such as alpina, C. macropetala, C. armandii, C. montana and C. chrysocoma as soon as possible after the blooms drop, but no later than July. Prune large-flowered hybrids such as Nelly Moser, Miss Bateman, Lasurstern and Duchess of Eidenburgh in February or March to the topmost pair of large, plump green buds. Prune late-flowering clematis, including C. viticella, C. flammula, C. tangutica, C. x jackmanii, in February or March back to a height of 2 to 3 feet.
- Treat newly established clematis with fungicide if you suspect Clematis wilt as the cause of your blooming problems. Look for spotted leaves and partially rotted stems as signs of fungal invasion. Prune out any affected stems at least 2 inches below the point of invasion.
Tips & Warnings
Clematis prefer a skinny trellis for climbing. If you plan on running your clematis on a trellis, select a trellis with narrow bands or one made of bamboo poles.