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Clematis Pruning - When should I do it?

Our Clematis has always flowered in the 2 years we have lived in our house and looking at it yesterday there are some new leaves and buds growing which is great.

However like I say we didn't do anything with it for 2 years and the previous owner of the house hadn't either so as a result its looking a bit woody and leggy.

The question is when do I prune it. It generally flowers in May time this one so I have identified it as a group 2 Clematis. I am thinking of cutting back hard to almost the base after its flowered but not sure if this is too drastic and the right way to go. There are quite a bit of dead wood but not sure if I should prune these back whilst its activity growing. 

So basically should I prune back hard or just tidy it up when its finished flowering?



  • darren636darren636 Posts: 666
    Prune after flowering, you'll get flowers again next year.

    Cut it back to a controllable framework.

    Or if you need to, down to 30cm from soil, leaving a few buds.
  • If it's big and leggy, could it be a montana? These are very vigorous and in a few years they have quite thick woody stems. They generally have clusters of smallish flowersin about late April to May (have a google for pics).

    If that's what it is, it doesn't want to be cut right back, just trimmed a bit after flowering, to keep it manageable.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,134

    Group 2s don't need much pruning - generally a little tidy up after the first flush of flowers and you should get another flush again in late summer.

    If it's a montana, you don't need to prune at all unless it's outgrowing it's space. You can prune to suit, but bear in mind that if you prune it right back it will take a while to come back to a decent size and you'll lose a flowering period along the way. They're 'designed'[ to be big and sprawling to cover arbours, sheds, pergolas etc, as opposed to growing up against a fence or wall, or an obelisk.

    If the flowers are quite small it's more likely to be a montana. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Ah now that you mention it and looking at photos it's definitely a Montana.

    So a general good tidy up would be best after its flowered? In places it's not attached to the trellising anymore so does need training better for future growth to get best shape.

    I'll get a photo of it up and see what people think I can do with it as it's almost filled the trellising that's currently there
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,134

    Tie it in to your trellis where you want it to cover gaps, with new growth it's soft enough to weave in an out. If you have more room beside your trellis, you can add wires to attach it to. I've done that in the past - even along a lowish fence. I simply wove the new growth up and down and along the wires so that the fence was covered. Montanas will easily cover a 50 foot length of fence or more. 

    The flowers appear on older growth, so the bigger the framework of branches, the more flowers you'll get. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • How long will it take a newly planted 2 year old Montana (about 1m now)  to reach 4 metres? Could it do it in one season or is that just wishful thinking?

  • Be careful what you wish for ....

  • Hey everyone

    I still have not got round to giving my Montana a prune but was thinking of giving it a go today. Yes everyone was correct it did flower in May.

    Is now a good time to give it a prune and cut off any dead parts and tie it into the trellising?

    One thing that has concerned me a little after reading this thread again is a post by FairyGirl. She said that Montanas are designed to cover sheds and pergolas etc however the previous owner of my house has made it grow up the side of the house, is this the wrong type of Clematis growing really? Should I have a more traditional clematis growing?

    Also I have noticed its starting to out grow its trellising and I am not sure that I want it growing up the house anymore as it will be unmanageable. I will try and get a photo up to show people what I mean.

  • Anyone know?

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,134

    Hi Turnipfarmer - You can grow them on house walls no problem. The reason I said they were suited to covering sheds or garages etc is that they are more sprawling and much bigger than the clematis we normally think of. When they're on house walls it's just harder to keep them looking tidy as they want to grow everywhere! You need a big ladder  image

    You can prune them to a particular height on a house wall of course, but they'll want to keep going up so  bear that in mind. You'd probably have to cut the top back a couple of times a year.

    It depends what you have surrounding it too. I had a fence next to mine so although it grew up over the back door, ( I tied it in and pruned any excess off throughout the year) I was also able to train it all along the fence. It was a bit of a faff initially, but looked tremendous when it flowered. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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