When to Prune Clematis


Clematis is one of the most popular vining plants grown in gardens and back yards across America. Some varieties of these rapid growers can stretch to heights of 30 feet, but most are curtailed at 10 to 12 feet. When several varieties are planted, it is possible to have clematis blooms from early spring to late fall. Left to its own devices, clematis will do just fine, but it will not bloom as profusely as it will if you take the time to prune it regularly. How you prune a clematis vine depends primarily on the variety and blooming time of the vine.

Moderately Easy


things you’ll need:
  • Clippers
  • Pruning shears
    1. Prune spring blooming clematis back immediately after blooming to promote healthy vines and vigorous blooming the next season. New growth will grow back through the summer and set buds for the next year’s blooms. Vigorous vines can be cut back to the ground if preferred. Slower growing varieties will benefit from a light pruning, removing stray branches to shape and train the vine.
    2. Prune summer and late fall bloomers while they are dormant or very early in the spring as they begin to show signs of new growth. These vines bloom on new growth, use care not to prune away too many young shoots. Remove stray branches and thin out old or dying vines to allow air circulation to reach the center of the plant. Trim overgrown vines back to 12 inches to prevent them from invading neighboring plants.
    3. Prune clematis that has two or more blooming periods by watching to see which season has the biggest show of blooms, and treat the plant according to the recommendations for that type of vine. If it blooms more profusely in the spring, prune after the blooming season is completed. For those that bloom best in the fall, prune in early spring. Deadhead and thin these vines as necessary to maintain the shape you desire.

Tips & Warnings

  • Train clematis to climb a trellis or arbor by clipping away stray branches and redirecting young shoots. Attach vines to the trellis with twist ties until they are secure.

  • Keep old and dying wood trimmed to maintain the health of the vine.

  • Apply high phosphorus fertilizer just prior to blooms to increase bloom size and enrich color.

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