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How to winter-prune clematis


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.

How to do it


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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Talkback: How to winter-prune clematis
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Redfingers 12/01/2012 at 18:35

I live in the Isle of Wight and my clematis are not just budding, they are full on leafing - can I still prune in the same way or will this damage the plant?


Lyn 20/01/2012 at 11:29

I have clematis that blooms twice, in Spring and late Summer. When do I prune these and to how low please?

duck 22/01/2012 at 19:07

I have 2 varieties of montana clematis. In summer they covered the top of the fence with virtually no foliage below. Should I prune them, and if so, when and how please?

Lyn 08/02/2012 at 15:57

How do I prune my clematis that blooms twice in the year, double flowers in spring and singles in late summer - autumn?

TazmanAlun 09/02/2012 at 20:29

Hi, duck in reply to your Q i would not prune your montana Clematis. What i would do is grow another clematis,up through the montana.I grow C. tangutica'Bill Mackenzie up one of mine and they look good, it flowers early summer to mid-autumn.Bill Meackenzie his a group 3 Clematis which i prune in the next week our two depending on the weather.

I hope this will help you.
Good Luck and Happy Gardening
Tazman alun

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