Pruning Clematis: Unlock the Secrets of Groups 1, 2, and 3

Have you ever wondered when and how to prune your clematis? Fear not! In this article, we’ll demystify the art of pruning these beautiful flowers by understanding the different pruning techniques based on their respective groups. Let’s dive in and discover the secrets of pruning clematis!

Understanding Clematis Groups for Pruning

Clematis, pronounced CLEM-ah-tis, can be categorized into three groups for pruning purposes. If you’re unsure about the species or cultivar you have, don’t worry! You can observe the growth pattern in the first year and prune accordingly.

Group 1: Spring Bloomers

The first group consists of clematis that bloom in early to mid-spring, typically around April to May. These flowers emerge from buds formed on last year’s wood. To encourage robust stems for next spring’s blossoms, it’s best to prune them right after the flowers fade. Notable species in this group include C. montana and C. macropetala. Don’t be afraid to prune these hard, as their growing season happens after they flower.

Group 2: Repeat Bloomers

Group 2 is divided into two subgroups, both of which grow on old and new wood.

Subgroup A: These clematis varieties bloom abundantly in May and June and then produce a lighter crop of flowers in the fall. Examples of such cultivars include ‘Nelly Moser,’ ‘Barbara Jackman,’ and ‘H.F. Young.’

Subgroup B: Cultivars like ‘Belle Nantaise,’ ‘W.E. Gladstone,’ and ‘King Edward VIII’ have fewer flowers, but they are known for their large size and bloom from June until autumn. Some of these varieties can grow tall and straggly, making them perfect for climbing among roses and shrubs.

For Group 2 clematis, selective pruning in the spring is recommended. Start by removing dead or tangled vines. After the initial spring pruning, deadhead the flowers and prune again carefully. In some cases, if a plant has been neglected for years, a complete rejuvenation may be necessary. Trim away all the top growth until you can see the basic structure. Then, the stems can be retied and trained.

Group 3: Summer and Fall Bloomers

Group 3 clematis flowers on new wood and showcases its vibrant colors in late summer through fall. To keep these varieties flourishing, it’s essential to prune them more severely in early spring, around 12 inches from the ground. Follow each stem until you find a healthy, plump bud, and snip the vine just above it. If left unpruned, they will continue blooming from where they left off the previous year. Popular varieties and species in this group include ‘Jackmanii,’ C. tangutica, ‘Gipsy Queen,’ and ‘Ernest Markham.’

The Benefits of Pruning

Clematis is a resilient plant that can thrive with minimal pruning. However, neglecting to prune them can result in unmanageable vines. By practicing regular pruning every few years, you promote manageable growth, stimulate new blooms, and ensure most flowers are at eye and nose level. While drastic pruning may sacrifice some flowers in the first year, the long-term benefits are worth it.

Bonus Tip: Keep Those Labels!

When purchasing new clematis plants, it’s always a good idea to save the labels. These labels often indicate the pruning group to which the plant belongs, along with other useful information. This can be a valuable reference when it comes time for pruning.

So now you’re armed with the knowledge of clematis pruning! Remember, understanding the specific needs of your clematis groups will help you achieve a flourishing garden filled with vibrant blooms. Happy pruning!

This gardening advice is brought to you by Mootsy Elliot, a Master Gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland.