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Very old clematis

Good morning. We have inherited a very old established clematis which is covering our pergola. I think it must be at least 17 years old. There is lots of thick dead wood but there is also new buds growing so I am reluctant to cut it back. Could someone please advise me on what to do to give it the best future. Do I just give it a good feed and see how it flowers this year or bite the bullet and cut it hard back. Your help is greatly appreciated 


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,952
    Probably a montana by the look of it. They flower in spring, then you get the foliage.
    You can cut them back hard and that rejuvenates them. That's best done after they've flowered. Just tidy up all the surrounding area and apply a good mulch of compost or rotted manure - any organic matter. You can then tie in new growth where you want it   :)
    You can always wait until it's flowered for an accurate ID, but that's the most likely one.

    They don't really need feeding, but you can use a slow release feed if you want. Blood Fish and Bone or similar. Feeding the soil around it [as described above]  is better.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Thank you very much. Yes I agree with you about it being Montana. When we viewed the house in September it had plenty foliage above the pergola and to be honest I don’t mind all the thicker dead wood at the back of the pergola as it just reminds us how long it’s been here. Enjoy your day….
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,960
    I agree with @Fairygirl, l have one that l cut back to around a foot to 18 Inches from the ground a couple of years ago. It looked pretty drastic at the time but recovered and flowered the following Spring.  It's now back to around 5.5 feet tall as l'm trying to keep it under control and let it spread gradually back along the wall.
    Must admit l always forget to feed it, but after at least 20 years it doesn't seem to mind too much.
  • Thank you very much for replying. I will be very impressed if it flowers well. I have mulched with about 5 inch of really good compost today and a top dressing of slow release fertiliser. I don’t usually do this until the beginning of March but the garden seems to be waking up early this year. 
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