How to Prune Clematis

If you find yourself with a Clematis plant but without the label or are dealing with an established Clematis in your garden, pruning might seem like a daunting task. But fear not, here are some helpful hints to guide you through the process.

Group 1: Early Bloomers

As the old gardening saying goes, “If it flowers before June, don’t prune.” This rule applies to Clematis as well. Clematis alpina, macropetala, and montana are all part of “Group 1,” as they flower early in the year, from February until early May. It’s important not to prune these types of Clematis in the spring, as their flowers are on growth from the previous year. Pruning early would mean cutting off the buds and branches where the flowers are forming. Luckily, Group 1 Clematis don’t require routine annual pruning and will happily flower without it. You can prune them if needed, but always after flowering, to tidy up or control their growth.

Group 2: Showy Summer Blooms

The next group of Clematis, known as “Group 2,” is highly popular due to their large, eye-catching blooms. These Clematis varieties, such as ‘Nelly Moser’ and ‘The President Niobe’, flower in early summer, specifically in May and June.

Group 3: Late Bloomers

The late flowering Clematis make up the third group. This group can be a bit confusing because some varieties, like ‘Jackmanii’, have large flowers while others, like C. viticella, have small flowers. However, what distinguishes them all is their late-season flowering. These Clematis varieties are known as “Group 3.”

To determine how to prune your Clematis, take note of when it flowers. Early spring bloomers belong to Group 1, summer bloomers belong to Group 2, and late summer bloomers belong to Group 3. Keep in mind that this is a general approach, and to be completely sure, you would need to identify the specific variety of Clematis and check its pruning group. With hundreds of Clematis types available, this can sometimes be challenging.

Now that you know which pruning group your Clematis belongs to, let’s move on to the next steps.