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When To Prune Your Clematis

November 08, 2010
Nelly Moser Clematis Blooming in November

Nelly Moser Clematis Blooming in November

Do you know when to prune clematis plants?

In years past, 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? Now that’s a new one on me. Pink really is the new fall color for 2010!

As I strolled through the garden on one of our our 70F days last week, I was surprised to see a stunning flare of pink brightening the bare fence. Yep, there she was showing off her pretty flowers!

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.

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. And 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.

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.  Here you can check out photographs as well as a list of names that also isolate the pruning group. 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.

Still not clear on how to prune your clematis and hoping you too can enjoy a blast of color from your beauties as often as possible, get in touch. Garden Mentors can help you identify and properly care for your Clematis — maybe even finding ways to encourage them to bloom right about the time all the trees go bare for winter!

1 Comment

  1. Clematis says:

    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…

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