Prune to bloom

Keep your clema­tis in good shape to en­cour­age masses of flow­ers

Gardening Australia - - CONTENTS -

All clema­tis need reg­u­lar prun­ing to keep vines in good shape, and re­move any dead and un­wanted ma­te­rial. Most im­por­tantly, prun­ing en­cour­ages lots of fresh, healthy growth, and masses of gor­geous blooms at a height where you can en­joy them most, rather than up high and out of sight. Proper prun­ing starts with know­ing what type of clema­tis you have. The many dif­fer­ent species, hy­brids and cul­ti­vars are di­vided into three main groups, based on the time they flower and the type of growth that pro­duces the blooms.

group 1

Flow­er­ing in early spring on last sea­son’s growth, this group in­cludes the well-known Clema­tis mon­tana, along with C. alpina, C. ar­mandii, C. cart­manii and C. macropetala. Don’t prune th­ese now; wait un­til they have fin­ished their spring show. When the last flower drops, hop straight in and give them a light trim to tidy them up. If they are a bit over­grown and con­gested, go a lit­tle harder.

group 2

This is a group of large-flow­ered clema­tis that bloom in spring on short shoots that de­velop from last year’s growth, then con­tinue flow­er­ing through sum­mer and au­tumn on new growth. It in­cludes C. hen­ryi, C. florida var. sieboldiana and pop­u­lar hy­brids C. ‘Nelly Moser’, C. ‘Re­becca’ and C. ‘Snow Queen’.

Prun­ing starts in late win­ter, but it must be light. You don’t want to re­move too much of last sea­son’s growth, as this is where the spring blooms are gen­er­ated. Fol­low each stem down from the tip, and trim just above a pair of plump, healthy buds. To pro­mote a sec­ond flush, tidy up im­me­di­ately af­ter flow­er­ing, cut­ting just be­low spent blooms. Con­tinue this through the sea­son to en­cour­age re­peat flow­er­ing. If your vines are over­grown, prune them harder af­ter the ini­tial spring flow­ers, cut­ting them back by about half. The vig­or­ous new growth pro­duces flow­ers in sum­mer and au­tumn.

group 3

Th­ese flower in late spring/early sum­mer on new sea­son’s growth, and in­clude showy, large-flow­ered C. viti­cella and C. tex­en­sis. Prune in the lat­ter half of win­ter. Vines are gen­er­ally cut back hard to about 30cm above ground level, leav­ing at least two pairs of good, strong-look­ing buds on each stem. This en­cour­ages an up­surge of new growth in spring, fol­lowed by a pro­fu­sion of blooms in sum­mer. Chop­ping them back hard again straight af­ter flow­er­ing of­ten en­cour­ages an­other flush of blooms in late sum­mer/au­tumn.

STAR QUAL­ITY Left The large, star-shaped blooms of C. ‘Nelly Moser’ have made it a favourite with clema­tis grow­ers. Be­low Late-flow­er­ing species such as C. viti­cella and C. tex­en­sis ben­e­fit from a hard prune to­wards the end of win­ter.

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