Winter-prune clematis

How to winter-prune clematis

Check out how to prune Group 3 clematis in winter, in this step by step guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do To do in February

Do To do in March

Do not To do in April

Do not To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

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.

Pruning 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.

Discover how to winter-prune clematis, below. 

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

You will need

Secateurs

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Total time:

Step 1

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

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Step 2

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.

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Step 3

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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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