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Clematis advice please

SuesynSuesyn South Somerset Posts: 338
I have 2 group 2 clematis growing on opposite posts on the pergola. They have both been in about 3 years.  They both flowered well in May and I pruned them back a little hoping to get a 2nd showing later. Unfortunately in my ignorance I didn't realise that they would need as much 
 water as they obviously did and they suffered during the hot weather.  Once I knew what was wrong I have been watering them regularly and they are recovering.  However the lower stems are completely bare and all the new growth is at the top  (starting 4 ft up). 
Should I leave it until spring or should I be bold and cut it hard now , it just looks a tangled mess at the moment. 
Please advise me as I don't want to do the wrong thing. 


  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 26,598
    I'd leave them alone now.  Keep the ground moist and I'm pretty sure they'll be fine next year.
    I wonder if @Richard Hodson might suggest a feed? or is it too late?
  • SuesynSuesyn South Somerset Posts: 338
    Thanks for your advice Hosta.  I was feeding them with tomato feed, which may have helped with their recovery so far but what I am concerned about is that the new growth will be higher than I thought it should be.  To be honest I thought they were both group 3 when I bought them, I find them much more straightforward. 
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 26,598
    Don't get too fixated about group X or group Y. They're pretty resilient. 
  • To be honest I thought they were both group 3 when I bought them, I find them much more straightforward. 

    Did they have labels with names on ? 

  • SuesynSuesyn South Somerset Posts: 338
    Yes, they did, one is Duchess of Edinburgh and the other Josephine.  I bought them at a plant fair and the seller told me that they were group 3 but I looked them up when I got home and they are group 2.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 23,471
    I would leave them be for this season in case they do produce any new flowers but next spring I'd treat them as group 3s and prune back hard to a pair of buds then give a generous dollop of slow release clematis food and regular drinks of rose or tomato feed to help with flowering.   new shoots will be lower down and tempting to slugs and snails so watch out for those.

    My last garden could get very cold and I often found none of the top growth on my group 2s had survived so I just treated them as group 3s.  It means you get one longer flush of flowers instead of 2 shorter ones but the do then flower lower down too so are perfect for arches and pergolas.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 26,598
    I have to say, in my garden , it's a case of " if in doubt, cut it to about 2 1/2 feet in Spring" .
    I have  viticella / texensis types which I cut to the ground, the others don't seem to mind my , less than textbook approach.
  • If you treat them as Group 3 and they are Duchess of Edinburgh and Josephine, you probably will not get the double flowers.
  • Richard HodsonRichard Hodson Posts: 790
    edited August 2018
    Clematis do not 'know' which Group they belong to, you point them in the direction you want them.   Some people want big blousy blooms in Spring, so they try to get flowers on old wood, most people want Summer flowers, smaller, more flowers, on fresh new wood.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 10,077
    I have Duchess of Edinburgh and agree with Richard as the second flush (which is what you will get if a group 2 is treated as a group 3) are always single blooms.  However, still worth cutting back hard (to about 30cm) next Feb as a 'renovative prune' to stimulate new shoots from low down and from below ground.  You will lose the early double flowers for a year but can them train them in a way to keep the blooms lower in subsequent years and the double flowers will return.  I have to do this every few years to most of my group 2s.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
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