How to winter-prune clematis

How to winter-prune clematis

Follow our step by step guide to winter-pruning Group 3 clematis.

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To do
To do

Do not To do in January

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Do To do in March

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Do not To do in December

Pruning clematis is not the difficult task some people imagine it to be.

Group 3 clematis, which flower in late summer, require regular pruning. This is because the flowers grow on the current year’s growth. If you don”t prune, you’ll end up with a tangled mess of old and new growth, with flowers appearing only on some of the plant. Pruning is carried out in late winter, just as buds are starting to emerge.

Pruning Group 3 includes the Clematis viticella hybrids and Clematis 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.

Follow our guide to winter-pruning clematis, below.

Only Group 3 clematis, which flower in late summer, require regular pruning.
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You Will Need

  • Secateurs

Step 1

Untangle the mass of last year’s growth from its support, cutting through any strings and removing ties that have been used for training. Lay the top growth on the ground.

How to winter-prune clematis - untangling growth
How to winter-prune clematis – untangling growth

Step 2

Roughly chop off the top growth, initially leaving the stems around 50cm long. Take care not to damage any developing buds or shoots. Cut up the prunings for compost.

How to winter-prune clematis - removing clematis stems
How to winter-prune clematis – removing clematis stems

Step 3

With the bulk of the growth out of the way, use the tips of your secateurs to cut back to a second or third node or pair of buds above ground level. Cut 3-5mm above the buds or node.

How to winter-prune clematis - pruning above a pair of buds
How to winter-prune clematis – pruning above a pair of buds
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Group 3 clematis to grow

  • Clematis ‘Pearl d’Azure’ – a popular old variety with sky blue flowers in July to September. Height 3m
  • Clematis tangutica ‘Bill MacKenzie’ – small, bell-shaped yellow flowers in late summer followed by stunning fluffy seedheads. Height 4m
  • Clematis ‘Ville de Lyon’ – two toned light and dark pink flowers from June to September. Height 3.5m
  • Clematis ‘Gypsy Queen’ – large bright blue/purple flowers from August to October. Height 3m