How to winter-prune clematis

Do it:

Feb

Takes just:

one hour

Pruning clematis is not the difficult task some people imagine it to be. Only Group 3 clematis, which flower in late summer, require regular pruning. This is done in late winter, just as buds are starting to emerge.

Group 3 includes the Clematis viticella hybrids and C. texensis, as well as the lovely variety ‘Bill MacKenzie’. Clematis that flower in spring or early summer are classified in Groups 1 and 2.

Winter-pruning clematis simply involves cutting back all stems to 30cm above ground. Growth can be quite rapid once the soil starts to warm and day temperatures rise, so keep on top of tying in new shoots.

You will need

Secateurs

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Before pruning, make a quick assessment of the plant to check its overall size and strength of growth.

In late-winter, buds are beginning to emerge. Make sloping cuts above a pair of buds to ensure there are no unsightly ‘snags’, which die back, allowing diseases to enter. Reduce each stem to about 30cm above ground level.

Once shoots start to grow, carefully wind them around the plant support and tie in using twine. This will encourage the shoots to flower along the entire length of the stem. Otherwise, new shoots will race to the top of the support, providing only minimal coverage and with flowers only in the upper, high sections.

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