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Clematis ‘Little Nel’

Morning everyone.  Advice again please.  I have a clematis viticella ‘Little Nel’ which was planted a year ago.  It’s got a lot of healthy top growth but is very spindly ‘down below’.  Should I leave well alone or should I prune hard now?  I’ve a feeling this should have been done earlier in the year 😕. Please tell me where I’ve gone wrong .... I can take it! 


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  • it is a group 3 clematis, so it should be pruned hard, although you might have left it a bit late, as you suspect. perhaps you could get away with pruning it now, but i don't know.

    https://www.ashridgetrees.co.uk/gardening-advice/climbing-plant-advice/pruning-group-3-clematis
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,579
    In my experience Little Nell can take a year or 3 to get her feet down and become a strong grower.  This year I would cut back just half the top growth now and then give her a good feed.   As she regrows, train in those stems as horizontally or diagonally as possible and let her twine round supports.

    Gorgeous clematis when she gets going.  Give her a good feed of slow release fertiliser every spring and an occasional liquid feed of tomato fertiliser and she'll grow strong roots and send up more new shoots every year.   Normal time to cut back hard is late Feb to mid March or a bit later depending on where you are and how cold or exposed is your garden.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • it is a group 3 clematis, so it should be pruned hard, although you might have left it a bit late, as you suspect. perhaps you could get away with pruning it now, but i don't know.

    https://www.ashridgetrees.co.uk/gardening-advice/climbing-plant-advice/pruning-group-3-clematis
    Thank you @[email protected]"Alan Clark2 in Liverpool" 👍
  • @Obelixx Thank you so much for this.  I’m in Hertfordshire, 25 miles north of London so it’s mild here and my garden is very sheltered.  Do you think I could get away with it now?  With the feed, would fish, blood and bone be ok?  It’s a pretty little thing isn’t it?  I bought as a remembrance to our dear old dog Nellie so I’d hate to lose it.  I’m thinking of getting two more from Taylor’s just in case!  Thanks again 👍
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,579
    Just cut it half back so it doesn't lose all its foliage and food factory and then throw a wobbly.

    Give it time and don't order more of the same clematis.  When she does get going she'll need room.  This is the one I had in my last garden, photo from July 2015, trained on a metal arch 2.5m high and 1.2m deep.


    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks again @Obelixx. What a beautiful specimen that is, certainly gives me something to strive for.  Is there such a thing as ‘clematis envy’?  I think I may be suffering from it now 😉
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,579
    Lots of us do @Allyblueeyes.   I had about 35 clems in that garden and I have several clematis in pots I brought with me plus ones I've bought since but have since discovered I need a man with a bulldozer to shift foundations, concrete and a middenful of roof tiles from where I planned to put the pergola and seating area. 

    Little Nell is on my list of new ones to buy if and when I get the space sorted and can find one.  

    Good luck with yours.  Give her time and feed and water and she'll respond.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Obelixx said:
    Lots of us do @Allyblueeyes.   I had about 35 clems in that garden and I have several clematis in pots I brought with me plus ones I've bought since but have since discovered I need a man with a bulldozer to shift foundations, concrete and a middenful of roof tiles from where I planned to put the pergola and seating area. 

    Little Nell is on my list of new ones to buy if and when I get the space sorted and can find one.  

    Good luck with yours.  Give her time and feed and water and she'll respond.
    Thanks for all your advice.  I’ll be sure to send you a photo when mine looks anything like yours! 🤞
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,579
    Look forward to it.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Obelixx said:
    Look forward to it.
    @Obelixx.   Your advice has paid off.  This is my ‘Little Nel’ really going for it!  Looking forward to seeing how she goes next year! 😊


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