The Q&A Archives: When And How To Prune The Etoile Violette Clematis

Question: It is the first fall season for my Etoile Violette Clematis. The leaves and stems are very brown and brittle. When (Fall or Spring) and how much do I prune. I understand that prunning is different for each species of clematis.

Answer: Clematis stems often look quite terrible during the off months, but despite their appearance are usually still alive. The buds will swell in mid spring and you will see this if you inspect them carefully about once a week or so.

This particular clematis blooms on the current season's growth, so it should be pruned back very hard in the spring when the buds are beginning to swell. Cut it back to about a foot off the ground. It should bloom in June and possibly again in the fall.

Keep in mind that clematis tend to take several years to reach their full potential. In the meantime, keep the soil evenly moist (but not sopping wet) and provide it with some all purpose fertilizer such as 10-10-10 according to the label instructions and/or some compost in early spring and again in June. Maintaining several inches of organic mulch over the root zone year round can help keep the soil cool and moist as well. Do not allow it to touch the stems however.

Enjoy your clematis!

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