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Dilemma - how to prune my clematis group 3 now, when buds have formed so high up?

Pink678Pink678 EnglandPosts: 85
I'm very much a beginner and still learning how to do this, so any advice would be very much appreciated!
I was waiting until the last frost to prune my Clematis (group 3 sally evipo), but it has produced a lot of green buds very high up.
I think I should prune it now, but I'm not sure where to prune.
Online it says "Cut back plants to just above a healthy bud about 30cm from the soil".
But my first healthy buds are very high up, around 130-150cm measured straight up vertically from the ground. And all the dead woody stuff would then not be cut into (I thought I was supposed to cut away some of the old woody growth at the base).
Please could anyone advise - how many cm up should I prune them, please?
Should I actually just cut 30cm up into dead wood, removing all the buds completely?
Thank you










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  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,630
    It sounds counter intuitive but yes, cut back the stems low as group 3s produce lots of new shoots from the ground each year and these provide the best flowering stems, especially if you give them a good dollop of slow release fertiliser for clematis, roses or tomatoes - all high in P and K for flwoering and fruiting.

    Give it a  good mulch of well-rotted manure or garden compost too as clematis are hungry feeders.

    If you don't feel brave enough to cut them all, cut one or two stems back to their lowest bud, as high as that is, and cut the remaining stems right back and feed as above.  That would be a good compromise.



    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Pink678Pink678 EnglandPosts: 85
    Thank you so much Obelixx! This is so helpful.

    OK, I am going to be brave and cut them right down.

    How many cm up from ground level should I cut the stalks?
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,630
    30cms.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Pink678Pink678 EnglandPosts: 85
    Brilliant, will do, and I'll do the slow release fertiliser and the mulching too.
    Do you think they could produce flowers this year?
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,630
    Group 3s flower best on new wood so yes, absolutely.

    Clematis can take 2 or 3 years to get their feet down well and become prolific so don't be alarmed if it seems slow to start with.  It'll get there.  It's from a good producer and breeder of clems.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Pink678Pink678 EnglandPosts: 85
    Thanks so much, I'm well prepared now!

    The last frost here is expected 21st - 30th April, so should I actually wait until then to do the pruning?

    I'm sorry for so many questions.
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze South NottsPosts: 1,230
    @Pink678 No you need to do it as soon as you can. Mulching will help root development which is the key to growing them well.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 18,508
    I cut mine down in February. They are hardy. Maybe best not to do it when they are covered in frost but it doesn't matter if there are frosts after you've done it.
    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • Pink678Pink678 EnglandPosts: 85
    OK, great I will get on with it.
    I have ordered the slow grow fertiliser.
    I have some multi purpose compost to use as mulch.

    Should I avoid touching the clematis with the compost (making a ring around it)? And is 2 inches high the right amount of mulch?

    Thank you GardenerSuze and Busy-Lizzie
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,450
    edited 5 March
    No - it won't matter. Group 3s appreciate a mulch over them as it also helps to develop new stems, in the way described   :)
    The main problem you'll have is that the plant is too big for that support, unless you're really vigilant about tying stems in and around all the time as they grow. Most of these obelisks aren't big enough for a Group 3 clematis. Fine for the small early ones.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


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