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I have 2 which have been set last summer. They are the prune code that you are meant to cut right back. But when do I do this and how far back??

Depending on the harshness of the winter, I do mine any time from late Feb to mid March, cutting them back to about 9 inches and then give them a generous dollop of clematis food and aliquid tonic of tomato food.  Here's the RHS advice - 

I will do my summer flowering varieties any time now.  Although it's cold my delay is because it's cold for ME.   I really don't feel it's too critical but here growth is early and I do t want to remove too much new growth.  I look at the wood and remove hard back to buds variably from ground level to half way......tying the latter in to best display the clematis.    Not an exact science though.  No need to be be over precise.  Just use judgement as to how your plant should be.  

If you planted your Summer flowering clematis correctly you would have planted them about 6 inches deeper than they were in the pot.

Then in February you would chop them right down to the floor, to encourage new stems from below ground.

And if I didnt?? Would you lift and plant deeper?? Bugger!!!!



Not now as you may just end up disturbing and weakening the roots they have.  They go deep and are fleshy so easy to damage.   Give the plant a jolly good mulch of 3 to 4 inches of well rotted garden compost every spring to compensate for not planting them deeply.   Prune and feed as above before mulching.

I just followed the label instructions but there is a definite lot of twiggy at the base. Any other way of making them shoot up more at the base? Will mulch for sure

Mulch yes, but not right up to the stem Red.  Don't worry about the "twiggyness".  Few short weeks will see life there 


In my experience, clematis can take a season or two to settle and get their roots down and then they'll take off producing more stems from the base every year.  If you mulch them in autumn when the upper growth has lost all its foliage and turned twiggy you don't have to worry about not mulching the old stems.   They'll be cut off in spring anyway and the new stems will come from the root as long as you get the feeding right.  Greedy plants, clematis..

Personally, I would get the fork under them and lift them, making sure to get the whole rootball, then dig the hole deeper and replant, then give them a real good soak.

Do you know which 2 cultivars they are ?

I always give my clematis, group 2 and 3, a Valentine chop. Nothing much else to do on the 14th!  I wouldn't dig up the clematis now you've planted it. See how it goes first. They are not that fussy and a mulch will definitely help.


Obelixx -  I agree clematis take a year to settle down. 

I will look up the names when I brave the cold in a bit. I can see buds on them but I think that they are about a foot up!

One of the reasons why some clematis should be planted deep is because the deeper you plant, the more moisture will be available to the root system.

" Feet in the shade, etc. " is often spouted about clematis, that is also because more moisture should be available in shade than in the blazing sun.

If you do not plant the crown deep enough, then your plant will dry out and struggle, then you become another of the " I can't grow clematis, they get wilt " brigade.

Oh you are making me want to lift them. I put them in in june and September! I researched the prune code I needed so my small garden didn't look messy but nievely just followed the growers instructions for planting!

I've lifted and replanted Clematis after they've been in the ground for almost a year without harming them at all. I'm inclined to say lift them now and plant them deeper you'll not be sorry.


Richard, I'm aware of the need to plant clematis deeply but just how deep do you suggest? 

Not all clematis benefit from being planted deep.  In my experience the Viticella Group, Viorna Group, some of the ' herbaceous ' should be planted deeper.

Viticellas definitely need the crown burying 4 to 6 inches below ground.

I do not plant Atragene Group, Tangutica Group and many of the species deep.

This is why I asked ' Red Dahlia ' which cultivars had been planted.

Also I am concerned when Red Dahlia said he/she had followed the growers instructions, were these plants purchased from a grower ?

One is called star of India and the label pictures show you to put the pot level about an inch below the soil which I did. The other Is a red but I can't find the label!

If you are unsure which Group your clematis are in then Google ' Clematis On The Web ', then look on A - Z and find details of your plant.

This website is used by clematis enthusiasts worldwide and is a fantastic reference book for approx. 3500 varieties of clematis.


I suspect you have mass produced clems using a basic ticketing system to label them.   My specialist supplier always tells me to plant 4 to 6 inches deeper than they were in the pot as it gets the roots closer to permanent moisture and encourages the plants to prodcue extra stems and thus extra flowers.

I don't plant early or winter flowering or evergreen clems at all but only because they they usually get killed off by heavy frosts.  I stick to group 2s and 3s and treat them all as group 3.  My supplier helpfully labels his plants with degrees of hardiness and I avoid anything that can't cope with -25C but have found some -20C group 2s (bought before I knew better) will come back after a hard winter if pruned as group 3s and given loads of food and patience.