How and Why to Prune Clematis: Complete with all the necessary details

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How and Why to Prune Clematis

By goldfinch4
June 11, 2015

If you’ve ever seen a clematis that is one big mountain of tangled up stems, it’s almost enough to scare you away from growing them. But let’s take a look at why, when, and how these remarkable vines should be pruned and you’ll find it’s not as difficult as it seems.

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Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses
Clematis Irises Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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zuzu
May 18, 2013 9:26 PM CST

Plants Admin

Great article, Chris. Hurray!

It tells me everything I need to know about pruning these lovely vines. Thanks for sharing your expertise. Smiling
Name: Brenda
Dolores, Colorado
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bsavage
May 18, 2013 9:41 PM CST
Great information! What would be your best recommendation for support for clematis that grow against columns? I have five, four of them are old, and one is new last year. I have wrapped bird netting around the posts and tried to encourage them to grow around them in a spiral (only moderately successful), and we have just tied them up as they grow (looks kind of messy to me...). The get really big, sometimes reaching the second story balcony. I'd love any suggestions.
Name: virginiarose
Virginia
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virginiarose
May 19, 2013 2:40 AM CST
Great article Chris! Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!
Susan

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.....Margaret Atwood
Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Forum moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
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goldfinch4
May 19, 2013 3:03 AM CST
Thank you! Brenda, I think I'd try to find some type of wire support to put around the columns. Chicken wire wouldn't look very pretty, but I think I've seen wrap around supports in some catalogs that would work. I'm surprised the weight of the vines hasn't pulled the bird netting down. Sounds pretty though!
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Name: Vickie
Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
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blue23rose
May 19, 2013 6:51 AM CST
Thank you for a wonderful article. My very first clematis purchase was two years ago and now I have three. My fear has been that I would forget what type of clematis I have and not prune them at the right time.

This was easy to read and understand, and the pictures are so beautiful now I want to find more places to grow this lovely plant. I tip my hat to you.
Vickie
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Clematis Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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canadanna
May 19, 2013 7:36 AM CST
Very clear and informative article. It is so true that it is hard to cut back the vine but you give us all confidence! Because I live in a southern climate, I even cut my type 3 to the ground again in July. It sometimes feels like a leap of faith.
Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Forum moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
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goldfinch4
May 19, 2013 8:07 AM CST
My fear of pruning them wrong was what kept me from enjoying these beautiful plants a lot sooner. Once I learned how easy they are to care for, I went crazy buying them too. Whistling

Anna, do your zone 3 clematis rebloom again then?
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Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Clematis Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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canadanna
May 19, 2013 8:39 PM CST
Yes! It amazes me each time!
Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Forum moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Seller of Garden Stuff I sent a postcard to Randy! Sempervivums Sedums Region: Wisconsin Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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goldfinch4
May 20, 2013 12:41 AM CST
That's wonderful!
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Name: Donna Hill
Brimley, Michigan (Zone 4a)
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donnaraehill
Jun 11, 2013 11:28 AM CST
I love clematis and I have several. I have even trained them to cover a rock in my front yard garden bed. Thank you for making the pruning process seem less confusing and for letting us northern gardeners know that even if they die back to the ground almost every year, it won't hurt most any cultivar!
Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Forum moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Seller of Garden Stuff I sent a postcard to Randy! Sempervivums Sedums Region: Wisconsin Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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goldfinch4
Jun 12, 2013 2:01 AM CST
Hi Donna, and welcome to ATP! Welcome! Welcome!

They are an addicting plant, aren't they? Most of mine died back to the ground this past winter, and as of now, I think I only lost one. Who knows, that one may still come up. I've already had a clematis not come up for an entire year, then the following year it returned and was beautiful. Guess it just decided to spend a year making more roots. Hilarious!
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Name: Mary
The dry side of Oregon
Be yourself, you can be no one else
Charter ATP Member Region: Oregon Farmer Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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MaryE
Oct 26, 2013 10:11 PM CST
My clematis tag said to prune it by method C. I still don't know which of your groups it belongs to.
Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
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Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses
Clematis Irises Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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zuzu
Oct 26, 2013 10:14 PM CST

Plants Admin

If they're going by A, B, C, it's probably in group 3. What's the name of your clematis?
Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Forum moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Seller of Garden Stuff I sent a postcard to Randy! Sempervivums Sedums Region: Wisconsin Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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goldfinch4
Oct 27, 2013 4:02 AM CST
I agree Method C is most likely group 3.
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Name: Mary
The dry side of Oregon
Be yourself, you can be no one else
Charter ATP Member Region: Oregon Farmer Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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MaryE
Oct 27, 2013 8:13 AM CST
Jackmanii. Hope I spelled it right. Nursery folks say it is the best one for our climate.
Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
More ramblings at http://thegatheringplacehome.myfastforum.org/forum54.php
Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Forum moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Seller of Garden Stuff I sent a postcard to Randy! Sempervivums Sedums Region: Wisconsin Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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goldfinch4
Oct 27, 2013 1:29 PM CST
Yes, that's a Group 3.
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Name: Mary
The dry side of Oregon
Be yourself, you can be no one else
Charter ATP Member Region: Oregon Farmer Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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MaryE
Oct 27, 2013 3:39 PM CST
Thanks.
Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
More ramblings at http://thegatheringplacehome.myfastforum.org/forum54.php
Name: Vickie
Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
Bee Lover Garden Photography Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Region: United States of America
Region: Indiana Garden Art Annuals Clematis Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 2
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blue23rose
Dec 9, 2014 5:54 AM CST
I'm so glad this was featured again. I have starred it this time so I can easily find it again!
Vickie
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Forum moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Seller of Garden Stuff I sent a postcard to Randy! Sempervivums Sedums Region: Wisconsin Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
Image
goldfinch4
Dec 9, 2014 6:27 AM CST
Good idea - the star feature is wonderful and I have a bunch starred myself!
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Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Jun 11, 2015 8:22 AM CST
Great article!!! I have about 15 clematises now. All are two years or younger. I just can't get enough of them. Plus I'm out of space so growing vertical is my last option for adding plants.

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