BRIAN KIDD: One of the great gardening mysteries – how to prune clematis

Clematis Montana.
Clematis Montana.
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As you know, I try to make gardening fun as well as informative. I get a lot of questions about pruning clematis, so here is an easy guide to one of the most common horticultural problems.

This needs to be pruned as soon as the flowers fade, just prune off all the trailing branches as soon as the flowers fade.

As you are removing the long shoots with dead flowers you will see short growths which are a purplish colour, leave thesse, they will grow during the summer and will produce flowers next spring. If your Clematis montana is very overgrown, some of the branches can be cut to just a foot above ground level as soon as all the flowers fade, use a pruning saw and cut the selected growths down to a foot, the new shoots will grow like mad and

you will have loads of flowers the year after next.

The next type are those which flower during the summer - examples are Clematis Bees

Jubilee, Jackmanii superba, Nelly Moser, these all flower in June and some of them

flower again in the autumn. All of these summer flowering clematis are pruned at this time

of year, they need to be cut right down to the lowest shoots seen at the base of the shoots,

yes, down to about a foot in height from the soil.

All of the Clematis Jackmanii group tend to suffer from clematis wilt but if a piece of

rainwater pipe, about a foot long, is put over the stems left after pruning and the base of

the pipe is pushed into the surface of the soil. This will prevent clematis wilt disease, the

down pipe stops the fungal spores from attacking the basal stems of the clematis.

WOW, that seems too hard but like many other shrubs, the harder they are pruned, the

more they grow, the more they grow, the more they flower as long as they are fed after


The next group are those which are less vigourus and have thick stems which are

permanent and the flowers are produced along side shoots growing from the main stems.

These are not pruned now but are pruned as soon as they finish blooming during summer.

After all types are pruned give the plants a treat, fork over the surface of the soil with a

garden fork to a depth of about 2 inches, add 4 ozs of Vitax Q4 fertiliser over a square

yard, fork this in and water afterwards. The plant will grow like mad., the harder they are

pruned, the more they will flower.

If you are still not sure how to prune the clematis in you garden, cut off all the trailers of

flowers as soon as they fade.

As you will see, I have not used lots of Latin names, I have just answered and enjoyed

reading your question.​​​​​​​


This is the last chance to move shrubs and trees from one part of the garden to another. Simply choose a nice day.

You would be surprised how many people leave this job until it is too late.