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Pruning clematis

Joy*Joy* Posts: 571
I have several new clematis which are in group 3. Some have grown to the top of the trellis and are wending their way across the top. I'm trying to understand about how they should be pruned. The Alionushkas have had 3 or 4 flowers on them and I have 3 flammulas which are only about 18 inches high and are just showing signs of a few flower buds. What would your advice be with these please? As I understand, you prune in March to above the first pair of strong buds. Does this mean that they have to make all their growth every year? I know that they flower on new wood so will they never be any bigger than they are this year? I've no experience with these and hope that my question isn't too garbled! 

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  • Mr. Vine EyeMr. Vine Eye Posts: 2,058
    Joy* said:
    I know that they flower on new wood so will they never be any bigger than they are this year? 

    You're right that group 3 clematis flower on new growth so to avoid them becoming a tangle of twigs lower down with flowers high up, you cut them right back in early spring.

    But even though you're cutting the top growth back, the root system is still developing and getting larger than when you first planted it. So they will grow back more vigorously in subsequent seasons then they did this year when newly planted. Also you'll get more flowers if you encourage them to grow as horizontally as possible, so get them to zig zag at 45 degrees up the trellis rather than let them grow up vertically.

    Ive done this with my new ones, potted on, trained them against horizontal wires and they've got quite a lot of flowers on considering how small they were when I first got them.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,165
    Yes - as MrVE says - prune back hard, and train horizontally to get better coverage. They produce more stems as they mature, so a young plant may only have one stem, but a mature one will have several, and each stem will be more productive, assuming they're getting the right care and conditions too. 
    They take many years to reach full maturity.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Joy*Joy* Posts: 571
    Thank you. I'm a bit of a novice with clematis. Previously I only had montanas which grew into very old and very big apple trees. They just did their own thing! 
  • RubytooRubytoo On the sofa, Southerly aspect.Posts: 1,287
    Bear in mind that Aljionouska is not a climber but more of a scrambler, she does not have self clinging leaves that wrap around things although she is still a G3.
    Might be better off growing through a shrub or with another clematis or something to help support the stems.

    Good luck with your flammula, they are lovely and the scent is gorgeous. I have tried to grow it but lost it and a similar one. I think they like drier conditons that I can supply.
  • K67K67 Leicestershire Posts: 2,507
    You can cut them in autumn by about a half if they look too messy, then cut down as others have said
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