The Q&A Archives: clematis

Question: My clematis are not blooming. They have bloomed in the past. What do we need to do?

Answer: Clematis can fail to bloom if the cultural conditions are not quite right, or if they have been pruned at the wrong time, or not pruned at all. Named varieties of hybrid clematis bloom in 2 different ways: some bloom on wood grown the previous year and some on wood grown in the same year. Clematis in the Jackman group of hybrids (such as jackmanii) bloom on new growth (wood grown in the same year). You'll have to watch where the blossoms occur on your clematis to determine if they are on new or old wood. If you wish to prune a Jackmanii clematis, do so in spring as the buds swell or slightly before. You can prune to within 4-6" of the base if you wish. If the clematis flowers on old wood, prune dead and broken growth in the spring, but don't do any other pruning at that time. After flowering, a portion of old shoots should be cut back severely. Clematis enjoy a rich, humusy soil. Give them lots of organic matter such as compost or composted manure. Clematis prefer having their heads in the sun and their feet in the shade, so mulch is helpful to keep roots cool and to keep competing weeds at bay. Hope this information helps you determine when to prune for best flowering!

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