Clematis plants are vining plants that produce flowers annually and can be used to create a background for showier plants or trained to grow up a trellis or other stationary object. Pruning clematis helps remove dead or diseased portions of the plant and keeps it healthy. The three main groups of clematis require pruning at different times of the year.
The first group of clematis plants are those that bloom in April and May. These plants should be trimmed after the current season’s blooms have come and gone, as these types of clematis grow on the previous season’s growth. Only prune this group of clematis plants if portions of the plant have died or become diseased or if the plant is growing too rapidly.
Spring- and Autumn-Blooming Clematis
The second group blooms in middle to late May and frequently produces a second set of blooms in September. Trim these types of clematis, which includes varieties such as Mrs. Cholmondeley and the President, in March to help keep the plant healthy. It may cause the clematis to miss its May flowering, but removing dead or damaged portions of the plant is important for ensuring the continued growth of the clematis.
Early Summer-Blooming Clematis
Some types of clematis bloom in June or July. These types of clematis retain their blooms through the autumn and include varieties like Madame Julia Correvon. These clematis plants can be pruned throughout the growing season because they produce blooms on new growth. Trimming helps encourage new growth to emerge, which can lead to a greater set of blooms after the plant is pruned. These clematis plants can survive with limited pruning.
Pruning clematis plants at the right time of year helps keep them healthy and blooming. Knowing when to prune a clematis prevents a gardener from pruning a plant that would have otherwise put out showy and attractive blossoms. Pruning also helps keep a garden trimmed and tidy looking. Removing diseased or damaged portions of clematis plants prevents pest problems and diseases from killing off the plant and spreading to other portions of the garden.