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Clematis is already forming buds - when would be the ideal time to prune?

Pink678Pink678 EnglandPosts: 168
I'm trying to work out when I should prune my Clematis (group 3 Sally evipo) ideally.

I'm supposed to wait until after the last frost, I think. And to cut back to just above a healthy bud about 30cm from the soil.

But it's already starting to form buds for the past couple of weeks, do I just carry on waiting?

Last year I left it rather late I think (around March), and cut off all the new growth, leaving only 30cm of wood at the bottom. But luckily it bounced back and produced lots of flowers.

I'm pretty new to this and it feels so wrong to cut off lovely new buds, but I guess that's how we are supposed to do it?

I'm in Oxfordshire so quite central. Wondering how to know it's the last frost, or whether to prune before that?

Thank you for any help.






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  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,706
    I would get that done as soon as possible. No need to wait until the last frost, which could be as late as May depending on where you are. The "tradition" is to prune clematis before Valentine's day, but these days they seem to start into growth much earlier than that (here, at least).
  • bédébédé Surrey Hills, acid greensand.Posts: 1,367
    edited 15 January
    Pink678 said:
    I'm supposed to wait until after the last frost, I think. And to cut back to just above a healthy bud about 30cm from the soil.



    Stick to the rules.

    If you are a bit tentative go for 45cm as a first stab.  Just a tidy up now would reduce damage from winds.

    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Wirral (free draining sandy soil)Posts: 1,754
    I prune my Group 3 Clematis, Etoile Violette once all the leaves have died down in autumn, with no ill effect for the past 10 years.  It depends on your soil and climate though as the old stems and foliage can offer protection over winter.
  • Pink678Pink678 EnglandPosts: 168
    Thank you very much JennyJ, bédé and Plantminded for your replies.
    It's so interesting to hear all the different approaches.
    I'm thinking maybe I will prune it relatively soon, though I know there is a risk that a hard frost would be damaging.
    Things seem to be sprouting up early this year. I've already got new green gladioli shoots coming up through the mulch.
  • LunarSeaLunarSea Cheshire / Derbyshire borderPosts: 1,159
    I usually do our Madame Julia Correvon in Feb. They are on an arch (one on each side) so I usually take some down very low but leave the odd stem at about 4' to get over the arch quickly. 

    It always seems drastic cutting good buds off but the whole lot gets shredded and added to the compost heap.
    Delusion is the ideal place to rest on a painful journey to the truth
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,147
    I do mine around March to avoid the worst of the weather, although that doesn't mean new growth doesn't get damaged. If I left it any later, I'd not be getting flowers till very late in the year.
    Some clems are tougher than others too, and it also depends what's around them to give the new buds some protection. You can also stagger it a bit - take some back harder than others, and see what happens. If they all thrive, you get a good layering of a mature plant, and can tie stems in well to get good coverage on fences or walls etc.

    I also do what @Plantminded does - and take a good amount of dead stuff off in autumn. It isn't benefiting the plant, and just looks manky.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • MarlorenaMarlorena East AngliaPosts: 7,132
    You're worrying about it far too much really, it's a very hardy plant..

    As per breeder's website..
    ''Remove all top growth down to 6" (15cm) late winter/early Spring''

    It couldn't be simpler, so February would be a good time for you.

    https://www.raymondevisonclematis.com/products/sally

    ..best of luck with your clematis, it's quite pretty isn't it.. ?
  • Pink678Pink678 EnglandPosts: 168
    That's really helpful Fairy Girl, I am learning a lot!  That's the first I have heard of layering of a mature plant.

    Good to know I can take off the dead stuff in autumn, as it hasn't been looking great the past few months.

    It's very enjoyable learning how to treat these beautiful plants right and get rewarded for it, and I'm looking forward to giving it a nice prune. It's hard taking those fresh buds off but now I know they will just produce more, and as you say LunarSea, it goes into the compost.

    Interesting hearing how some of you cut the stems at different heights.

    Wow Marlorena, late winter - so not worrying about frosts at all!

    Yes, they are pretty, last year there were loads of lovely pink flowers. I have another one next to it, that's not nearly as productive - just one or two purple flowers - it's a Ruby Glow group 2 (I think! not 100% sure). Don't know why it it's not successful, it's next to a large shrub so I don't know if that is shading it too much or stealing its nutrients.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,147
    I should have clarified what I meant by layering @Pink678, as it normally means something else!
    I just meant you'll get good/better coverage on the wall by spreading stems out a bit more.
    I have one [ a macropetala] which I train over and around a shelf on the fence beside the back door, where I have a storage box and the hose etc. It's lovely to have it next to me if I'm able to do a bit of potting or seed sowing in April when it flowers. If none of that was there, it would be spread out across the bit of fence instead, from it's site in the nearby raised bed. It also spreads the other way, mixing with a Group 2   :)
    That's where clems are such great plants - they're so versatile, and there's one to suit every position and location.
    We  all tend to grow them on walls etc, but they're really at home scrambling through other plants. It just depends what else is around them [planting] and what soil and aspect they have to thrive in. One of my favourite plants in the garden   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • MarlorenaMarlorena East AngliaPosts: 7,132
    @Pink678
    Re your Ruby Glow, have you pruned this at all since you had it? only it needs to be treated differently, even though you see it shown as a gr. 2.. it is better treated as a gr. 1, as it flowers best in mid to late Spring,  on stems it produced the previous season. 

    I would only be doing the lightest of pruning of this one in late winter.. otherwise you'll be removing the best flowering buds..   

    If you have any cheap multi purpose compost, your clematis will benefit from having a thick mulch applied around the base, and mounded up, this gives some protection to emerging shoots and encourages more basal growth, like this.. 


    good luck !.. 
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