An easy guide to pruning summer Clematis plants

Clematis Montana in bloom.
Clematis Montana in bloom.

As you know, I try to make gardening fun as well as informative. I get a lot of questions about pruning Clematis so I have put together an easy guide.

Clematis montana will be in bloom very shortly. It’s lovely vanilla perfume fills my car on my drive home from the garden centre.

However, it needs to be pruned as soon as the flowers fade and this can be done by removing all the trailing branches as soon as the flowers fall.

You will see short growths which are a purplish colour – leave these because they will grow during the summer and will produce flowers next spring.

If your Clematis montana is very over-grown, all 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 all the growths down to a foot. This will let the new shoots grow like mad and you will have loads of flowers blooming within a couple of years.

If you are growing the small, summer-flowering types, do not prune them at this time of year. This variety has a thicker stem than the spring-flowering types.

But similarly, as soon as the flowers fade, cut all the side shoots back to the thick stems. Nice and easy to do.

The next type are those which flower during the summer, such as Clematis Bees Jubilee, Jackmanii superba and Nelly Moser.

These all flower in June and some of them flower again in the autumn.

But all of the summer-flowering clematis should be pruned at this time of year. They need to be cut right down to the lowest shoots, seen at the base, down to about a foot in height from the soil.

It’s fairly normal for Clematis Jackmanii to suffer from clematis wilt.

To prevent this, find a piece of rainwater pipe which is about a foot long and put this over the stems left after pruning. Push the base of the pipe into the surface of the soil.

This will prevent clematis wilt disease because the down pipe stops the fungal spores from attacking the basal stems of the clematis.

That may seem like a bit of a task or too hard but like many other shrubs, the harder they are pruned, the more they grow.

And the more they grow, the more they flower – as long as they are fed after pruning.

Therefore after pruning, give the plants a treat.

Do this by forking over the surface of the soil with a garden fork to a depth of about two inches.

Then, add four ounces of Vitax Q4 fertiliser over a square yard, fork this in and water afterwards.

This will make the plant grow quickly and, again, 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 can probably tell, I have tried not to use a lot of Latin names. Instead I have just used your questions and I hope the answers will help you.

This week’s top tip:

Primroses will grow beautifully on the windowsill in a light window. Remember what mum always said: always choose those with just a few flowers with lots of unopened buds. Good ole mum, she was always right.