Cut down Clematis now?

Hi All

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. image

6 more days off work for me, and I'm itching to do 'stuff' in the garden - despite the weather!

Having recently moved house I gained a very lovely, but very overgrown, garden, and as a total novice I'm feeling rather overwhelmed.  So, I'd be really grateful to receive any advice about what I can do now.

I have read I need to tackle the pruning/renovation in Spring, but I'm worried about a Clematis at the front of the house.

I moved in in September and have not seen it flower, and it currently looks like dead wood - but it's huge and overgrown and the wooden trellis that attaches it to the front of the house is rotting and coming away from the wall.

I'd like to cut it back to ground level ideally - and replace the trellis with something more robust - but I don't want to lose it by chopping it down at the wrong time of year.  image

However, it's very windy at the front of my house, and given how unstable it is I think I might lose it if I don't do something.

Can anyone advise how this is best handled?

Many thanks in advance - Steph



  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 7,110

    Hi Steph,

    it will depend what sort of clematis you have, which maybe hard to tell until it springs back to life, but whatever one it is, don"t do any pruning now. Best to wait til about March until you make a start.  The reason is that cutting it back will stimulate new growth - even in the middle of winter, and that new growth will then get clobbered by any frosts, which will set the plant back.

    Some photos (particularly close ups of the dead leaves etc) will help peeps on here identify your clematis, and can then give more detailed advice.

    The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones ......
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,191

    You can safely cut back half the growth now to tidy it up and reduce wind resistance.  This will leave plenty of stems to produce new buds next spring even if some get clobbered by early frosts.  i'm about to d this on a Little Nell taht has been torn of its supporting arch by the high winds.   As it's a group 3 which regenerates from th ebase I can safely do this.

    Given yours is an unknown quantity, just prune off what you need to make it manageable.  What's left can be untangled from its support and leaned away from the house wall while you put in a stronger support.   If you are attaching new trellis, screw it to battens fixed to the wall as this will allow air to flow and reduce the likelihood of disease.  

    Come the spring, feed your clematis generously with clematis food and then wait fo it to flower.  You can then use the month of flowering and the colour to try and identify it and see what pruning regime it needs for the future to keep it looking good.  This site has a search facility and lists over 3000 clematis so yours should be in there -  it also has advice on pruning.

    The Vendée, France
  • Opps I just cut my clematis back to with in 8 inches 

    I will have to see if I've killed it. all I can tell you it's got a single purple/blue flower, My dog eats the plant back most years when his ball gets stuck behind the stems also the label has been eaten hence no clue what the clematis is  but the dog has done this for the past three years


  • Thanks so much for the advice Chicky and Obelixx - and for the laugh Clueless .... image

    Perhaps I should set my dog on the Clematis and save myself a job .... image

  • Hmmmmm .... any clues on how to upload photos here?  I've taken some of the Clematis but can't seem to get the uploader to work .... image

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,055

    It takes ages Steph, when you think nothing's happening it probably is. Start with the little tree (looks like a squatty green wineglass to me) and work from there. Don't try and upload anything too big

  • image


  • Ah haaaa .... it's worked.  Above photo is sideways on ....  height is about 6ft and the photo is attempting to show how it's coming away from the wall.  More to follow.

  • image


  • This one is also sideways on and shows some growth that is still active ... hoping someone might be able to identify from this ...

  • image


  • And finally, a close up of it coming away from the wall ...

    Thanks to Nutcutlet for the tip re the photo uploader.  image

    (There will be no stopping me now!!!)

  • Morning all.

    I plan to attack this beast today ... unless anyone can identify from the above photos and advises otherwise?

    Thanks - Steph

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,055

    It needs to be done Steph whether it likes it or not. Before the next gale or heavy snow rips it off.

    I can't ID it, sorry

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 14,218

    it looks like a montana hybrid to me. Spring flowering so don't go mad cutting it back until after it's flowered. If you can't wait, it'll come back after a severe pruning but when you've removed the old trellis, I'd cover more of the wall and carefully position the new shoots as they grow. It's pretty vigorous to say the least , and you seem to have plenty of room there. 

    Happy gardening.


  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 14,218

    I've tackled overgrown plants on trellis like this before. If you can, try to get the whole thing off the wall in one piece. Then try to break up the trellis and remove it from the tangle so you've the maximum plant left to deal with. You should find you can trace some good strong stems which you could keep and remove the rest. That way you've got some stems to start to retrain once you get your new trellis in place.

    I once removed a 40 foot wide wisteria from a house, rewired the walls, untangled the whole thing and repositioned it. Time consuming?, yes: worth it? definitely .

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,191

    If this is a Montana - and it seems likely - then you will lose one season of flowers if you cut it back hard before mid April asthey flower on old wood.   On the other hand, by cutting half back now to leave a manageable bundle, you will have an easier time replacing the old supports with something stronger and more extensive and then you can more easily train in the new shoots come spring to have a more manageable and attractive plant in future.  

    Montanas are pruning group 1 so usually they are tidied up once flowering finishes in spring but only pruned enough to remove any dead wood and keep them in bounds.   They are vigorous so it will need to be regularly monitored and trained in to its support.   They recover well from a severe haircut as long as the new growth isn't zapped by untimely heavy frosts which is why I suggested earlier that you could take it back by a half - as insurance.

    The Vendée, France
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