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Clematis Montana

tattiannatattianna Posts: 182

I have one of these plants which has been against a sunny fence for years and I've never really done anything with it except fall out with it every spring  because it only flowers at the top. To be honest my neighbour gets all the benefit as it trails over the fence into his garden and he often comments how beautiful it is. The only parts I see are the really tall branches that have scrambled way up high to the top of said neighbours huge unsightly conifer image In all fairness it does help to make to conifer look a bit prettier I suppose!

I suppose it is far too rampant for my small ish garden but I was wondering if I cut it right back to around 2ft above ground level and tied it to it's support as it grew again I could at least try to tame it a little and I could see it's pretty flowers without cricking my neck! 

The stems at the botton are quite thick, probably around 3-4inches in diameter and there are one or two new shoots growing around the base.

So that would you advise?



  • DaintinessDaintiness EssexPosts: 980

    I would not cut the whole thing down but cut out one or two of the old stems back to the base and tie in the new stems in the direction I would want them to go. That way you still get flowers at the top on the conifer(if you cut out the right stem!) and at the bottom you have shoots to flower and grow where you want them. Then depending on growth, you could prune out another old shoot next year or the following year to suit.Give the plant a good feed after you have pruned and be prepared to tie in the new growth as the plant will probably romp away!

  • auntie bettyauntie betty Posts: 208

    I dunno Daintiness - I'd probably be brutal if it were me, and have it look butchered now but get to where I want to go quicker in the end. Tattianna, these clematis flower now, and then spend the rest of the year growing the new wood on which next spring's flowers will form. So, the ideal time to prune is as soon as this year's flowering is finished (or sooner if you're not bothered about chopping them off since you can't see them anyway). Generally, people cut back in stages as described above in order to avoid the plant looking scalped for a few months and be a bit gentler on the plant, but if you don't mind effectively starting from scratch you can cut back the lot to within a couple of feet of ground level. A mature montana won't flinch. Put in some wires or something on the fence, so you can spread out and tie on the new growth, giving you maximum chance of seeing next spring's blooms. It'll recover really quickly if it's well established - I've known them put on 8/9 feet of growth in a single season. Give its feet a good thick mulch of well-rotted manure and don't let it dry out this summer - this'll keep its feet cool, which clematis love, and the goodness will also seep down and feed it, which it'll need if its got to put on all that growth anew. And Bob's your uncle. If you tie it in nicely you'll probably find it gets to the size you want this year, or next at the latest, and then you can just do the staged pruning to keep it to size and keep it flowering from lower down from then on. That also increases your chances of getting a second flush of flowers in autumn, as you won't have chopped off all those bits every year.

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    Have to say I'm with Daintiness on this one - apart from anything else, I think the staged cutback is not only better for the plant, but produces better-looking results overall, with staggered growth.

  • auntie bettyauntie betty Posts: 208

    Cowards! image I am a bit of a hackmeister. Personal choice, this one. I'm just too impatient. Maybe the real solution is to take it out altogether and plant a smaller clem in the first place... Montana's lovely, but it is a rampant beast. Wouldn't be my choice in a small garden, especially if I only had room for just the one. xx

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    Patience in all things - especially gardening image

  • auntie bettyauntie betty Posts: 208

    Nah, I'll be patient when I'm dead (of course, all my plants probably will be too). Except the bindweed, which will live FOREVER!!! Fortune favours the brave - yahoo!

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,400

    If I ony had room for one clem I wouldn't pick a montana - but I would be on the lookout for a new garden that could fit more clems.

    I have between 40 and 50 in mine and the latest treasure is a "resurrection" Presdient which has come back to life and is flowering for the first time in 5 years after playing Dodo for 3 years.   Got to love it but I especially love the ones which survive our winters and just get better every year.

    Montanas are no good here as they consistently suffer from a heavy frost just as they're about to flower and then give up and die completely.   Group 3s are a much better bet.




    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • auntie bettyauntie betty Posts: 208

    Agreed Obelixx. Smaller clem or bigger garden.  I'm currently living in hope that a 40ft run of boring golden leylandii hedge I've got will kark (possibly after some 'accidentally' overzealous clippage on my part) so I can have a rose and clem-covered fence instead. I wonder if bramble killer works on conifers...imagemwah hah hah

  • backyardeebackyardee Posts: 132

    The OH decided to cut back the montana on my workshop wall. Took the hedgetrimmer to it and gave it a haircut.................. result, a load of old woody stems and no flowers for 2 yrs. 2 flowers this year and looking better.

    Montanas can be hacked but it takes a while for them to recover. Go for pruning one or two sections and train new growth for yourself to benefit.

  • tattiannatattianna Posts: 182

    Oh my word don't think I've ever had such conflicting advice image 

    As for this particular plant being far too big & rampant for a small garden.... haven't we all made mistakes in our choice of plants? When we moved here 18 yrs ago in the midst of winter and it being a new build the garden was a muddy mess. I knew next to nothing about gardening and to be perfectly honest I had very little interest in the garden. I have only taken a keen interest in my garden over the past 2/3 years, which I know is absoluterly no time at all, but believe me the improvements I've made in that short time are flipping fantastic (even if I do say so myself!) I would never have achieved what I have if it hadn't been for the wonderful advice and encouragement I received from the BBC Gardening forum. Knowing what I know now I would never have planted this particular clematis but hey ho you live & learn.  

    Anyway I've had a look at the plant today and I think I'll prune it gradually, well that's if it stops raining long enough for me to be able to get outside to do it!

    Oh and by the way I'd like your help in identifying a couple of things, I have no idea what they are image  


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