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I've got a clematis Montana, which is 6 years old. It had completely taken over one of my fences and blocked out the sunlight . It flowered last year( not a lot of flowers) and I decided to cut it down. As I'm disabled my neighbours very kindly cut it down for me, but left the trunk and branches of the clematis. At the moment it is completely bare, with no sign of any growth etc. Should it be cut right to the base ??? I'm frightened to do it in case it doesn't grow back at all. Any advice would be most appreciated, thank you.
It should start growing again nearer spring. They flower on the previous years growth, so it might not flower this year, depending on when it was cut back. If it does flower this year, you can prune it back straight after flowering if you want to restrict its growth. If it doesn't flower this year, then prune it by early summer so that it can put on new growth, which will carry next years flowers.
Ah Little Garden Gnome. Hello and welcome. Mike is also registered disabled, so I can well understand some of your feelings. Don't fret. All of us on the forum are only too pleased to help.
Firstly, it is a big mistake of the majority of us who grow clematis. Even I. The dreaded Surgeon of horticulture, tend to leave the clematis out of the cutting back program. To be honest. I was taking stock of my clematis just the other day. Oh! what a tangled mess. In regards to youngish plants, the idea is to cut back almost to ground level. For more mature subjects, especially if you have trained yours to cover a fence or wall. Then by this time you probably have several main stems, or trunks. In this case, take your time or seek help. Working outward from each main stem. Check for signs of fresh buds etc. Cut back to three or four buds. When completed your clematis will look quite naked, but you will be able to forsee next seasons growth. Believe me. You won't be dissappointed.
Problem if left. Clematis as with so many climbers. New growth will start on the outside. As with Lonicera. You end up with a bird cage effect. Masses of dead undergrowth. Given time the plant will take over your garden.
Hope this helps.
I have a Montana Rubens which had to be cut hard back about five years ago to erect a fence after the neighbors removed their garage, it was probably eight years old at that time. I left a few good branches/arms for tying in to train along wires on the new fence, well it has romped twenty foot in each direction smothering the fence and our own garage, flowering beautifully the last couple of years, but needs constant snipping of wayward growth once it has flowered to keep it in check. Hard pruning does appear to reinvigorate Montana's into heavy flowering for a number of years, left unpruned for many years they can become old congested and less floriforous.
I would advise that you get a stout wiring system attached to the fence so you can wind the young stems along at your leisure.
I just clip mine back after flowering and cut back to where I want it.its tough old plant.