Pruning Clematis: Tips for Stunning Blooms

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Welcome to the blooming world of clematis pruning! In this insightful guide, we’ll unravel the secrets of pruning clematis, which is pretty important for vibrant and healthy blooms. From understanding why you need to prune to discovering the best times and techniques for trimming different clematis types, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting, join us on this journey to master the art of pruning clematis!

Is Pruning Clematis necessary?

Think of it as a balancing act; without a good trim, it’s like risking a garden disaster. If don’t prune your Clematis, the vines end up with too many old stems and not enough flowers – not a great look. Pruning is mostly rejuvenational for clematis. It encourages new growth, so you get more flowers at a comfortable eye level. It’s like taking a weight off your plant, keeping it steady and preventing any wobbles. Plus, it helps keep the plant healthy, like a little immune boost for your garden.

When to Prune Clematis

When it comes to timing, there are three groups of Clematis we need to discuss.

Early Flowering Clematis

Clematis montana
Clematis montana

Early Flowering (Group one) clematis, such as Clematis montana and C. alpina, steal the show in spring. For these blooming wonders, pruning is necessary only when they outgrow their space. Since they flower on last season’s wood, patience is key after pruning to ensure a vibrant bloom next year. Wait until the last blooms fade.

Large-Flowered Clematis

Nelly Moser Clematis
Nelly Moser Clematis

Group two clematis, like ‘Nelly Moser‘ and General Skkorski, flaunt blooms before June and then again later. These flowering wonders blossom on old wood, requiring a gentle pruning at the end of February or early March. Be cautious not to prune too hard, preserving those early shoots.

Late Flowering Clematis

Vitacella Clematis
Vitacella Clematis

Group three clematis, like the elegant viticella varieties, take center stage in the later summer, blooming post mid-June. The best time to prune these Clematis is In early March.

The Tools You’ll Need

Now, let’s talk tools. Pruning clematis doesn’t require an arsenal, but a few trusty companions are necessary.

  1. Pruning Shears: Ideal for thicker stems too. Opt for ones with adjustable blades for versatility.
  2. Gloves: Protect your hands from thorns and ensure a comfortable pruning experience.

Pruning Clematis

Armed with your trusty tools, let’s embark on the pruning journey. The approach varies with clematis types:

How to prune Early Flowering Clematis

Early flowering clematis needs very little pruning. Wait until the last blooms fade, then remove dead or damaged stems using sharp (and clean!!) shears for a clean cut. You can also rejuvenate older plants by cutting stems almost to the ground, but reserve this as a last resort and wait at least three years before repeating.

How to prune Large-Flowered Clematis

After the first flowering, trim stems beneath spent flowers to encourage new growth. For older plants with bare bases, consider a 30cm cut after the first flowering for rejuvenation. You might sacrifice the second bloom, but will get stronger growth.

How to prune Late Flowering Clematis

In early March. you need to trim last year’s growth, cutting your plant back to about 25-30cm above ground level near the lowest set of healthy buds. Pretty easy, and pretty straightforward. Just use clean and sharp sears to avoid any spreading of infections!


Pruning often causes a bit of a shock for plants and Clematis are no exceptions to this. Here are some tips to help your Clematis to bounce back faster:

  1. Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during dry spells.
  2. Fertilizing: Treat your clematis to a balanced fertilizer in spring to fuel new growth. A potassium-rich or rose fertiliser can work wonders.
  3. Support: Check your ties and supports. As your clematis grows, it may need a helping hand to reach new heights.
  4. Look for any signs of Pests & Diseases

Frequently Asked Questions

How to prune clematis for winter?

For a winter clematis makeover, prune the stems to about 30cm above ground. Once things warm up, watch out for speedy growth—tie in those fresh shoots as they shoot up.

When should clematis be cut back?

Early Flowering Clematis should be pruned mid- to late spring, after flowering, while Large-Flowered ones need to be pruned in February plus early summer. If you have a Late Flowering Clematis, prune it in February.

Can you cut clematis back to the ground in the fall?

Pruning clematis back to the ground in the fall should be done cautiously. Only do it in Very Late Fall, around early December, ensuring the plant is undeniably dormant.

Do you need to deadhead clematis?

Pruning the spent blooms on your clematis can give your plant a real fresh start. Don’t be shy, especially with the first blooms – you can chop off about 12 to 18 inches (31-46 cm) of stem. Your clematis will love the makeover and reward you with a burst of new flowers!

Should I prune clematis in their first year?

Absolutely! In the first spring for your new clematis, give them a trim to about 30cm. It helps them grow strong in the seasons to follow.