Tips for pruning Clematis vines. When and how to prune the various types. How to trim evergreen, hardy, spring-flowering, summer-blooming, and bush Clematis plants.
These 2 white Clematis vines were pruned in the spring.
One is growing much more quickly than the other. It is blooming now; the other will take over a bit later in the season and prolong the color show.
To encourage vertical growth, trim horizontal (side) branches back to just one pair of leaves.
To encourage horizontal growth, snip off the vertical stem just above a node at the desired height.
When to prune Clematis depends on which plant you have and when it flowers. But the first year training is the same for all hardy Clematis varieties:
Cut back the vertical stems to 2 or 3 pairs of buds when the vines are first planted.
After planting, do not prune these but begin to train them according to the pruning tips above to encourage the plants to grow up and out.
Begin pruning the second year according to the plant's vigor and bloom time.
Clematis armandii is a very vigorous evergreen variety. After it blooms in the spring, cut back stems that have flowered (to 3 nodes) and remove any excess stems.
During the growing season, thin and pinch the vine to keep it from growing out of bounds and tangling. You may cut new shoots back to 3 nodes to prevent them from shading out the rest of the vine.
When to prune a Clematis shrub is determined differently from trimming the climbing types.
Clematis heracleifolia and C. integrifolia are the 2 most commonly grown bush clematis plants. Although both plants are summer bloomers, they are pruned at different times.
C. heracleifolia should be pruned in early spring before its buds swell. Cut back stems to 2 pairs of buds.
C. integrifolia should be pruned after it blooms by cutting back the newest stems to 2 pairs of buds.
The following pruning instructions apply to all perennial, cold hardy, deciduous Clematis vines.
This type produces its flowers on last year's stems. Wait until it finishes blooming and then cut back the stems that have flowered to 2 or 3 nodes.
How much trimming you do depends on the plant's vigor. You are trying to encourage strong new growth that will flower next year but you don't want to let the vine overgrow itself of you'll wind up with a tangled mess.
Try pruning clematis which grows rankly like Clematis montana according to the instructions given above for C. armandii.
Prune less vigorous varieties by cutting the stems back by half. Thin out weak growth and remove any stem that is growing toward the center of the vine rather than away from it and creating a tangling problem.
The flowers of summer-blooming types are produced only on new growth. Prune summer-flowering Clematis vines in late fall or early spring while the plants are still dormant.
Trim back the previous season's growth to 12 inches. These vines will get bigger and bushier each season.
Many of the most popular Clematis hybrids are repeat blooming types. The first flush appears on last season's stems. Later, summer or fall flowers are produced on current season growth.
Prune Clematis vines of this type in early spring before the buds swell and again after the first bloom.
Keep the early spring pruning light. Just thin and untangle the plant. After it blooms you can prune it more heavily (according to the summer blooming instructions above) to encourage lots of new stems to grow to support a big flower show later in the season.