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Do you know when to prune clematis plants?
In school I was taught that when to prune a clematis only meant knowing which kind of clematis you were cutting and when it blooms.
So if you’d asked me when a Clematis x ‘Nelly Moser’ blooms, I would have told you “May/June…and maybe a little bit in September”. It manages to bloom on the prior year’s growth in a heavy flush in Spring followed, in some years, by a second, smaller flush on current year growth in late summer. But, a bloom in November?
This is a good reminder to understand your Clematis before you start hacking away on it. Had I pruned Nelly right after blooming in June (or even later in Fall), its quite likely this blossom wouldn’t be gracing my garden gate today.
My Clematis is in a Group?
There are a number of groups into which Clematis varieties fall. The groups are defined by whether the plant blooms on prior year wood, current year wood, or a combination of both. And, it can get really confusing. Plus if it’s pruned incorrectly, a Clematis can become really disappointing. Too, left unpruned, a Clematis can get really ratty and ugly. And with those tiny, wiry stems, sometimes its really difficult to scratch a stem to verify if that stem is living or dead — as you’re trying to clear out the dead to clean up a vine.
I don’t know my Clematis Group!
If you don’t know which Clematis you have, start by paying attention to when it blooms. That may help you narrow down your group. Another great way to figure it out is to visit the Clearview Clematis website. On their site, you can check out photographs. And they have an extensive list of clematis names to further help you ID your plant. Clearview sells many varieties. Plus, they provide a great amount of detail about each group (and subgroup) of clematis to help you know when to prune each, how often and how hard. Find their pruning guide here.
As a resident of Scappoose Oregon, I found a delightful clematis nursery that has classes during the growing season on the care and pruning and culture of clematis. One of the owners actually took me aside to answer some questions that I had. That afternoon I walked away with a gorgeous clematis named “Rebecca” that blooms like crazy all summer. Rave reviews by this gardener…