How to Spring Prune Clematis

Spring Pruning Clematis, an easy visual lesson on how and where to clip with a free video. Give your clematis a fresh, clean start in Spring for the new season.

Spring pruning clematis is one of the first garden chores of the new season I get to do and it is so rewarding. For general growing information for clematis just CLICK HERE.

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Purple clematis with text overlay, how to prune clematis in Spring, Flower Patch Farmhouse

Doing an early garden inspection to see what is emerging can reveal that your clematis is budding but looking rather messy with all the old bits still clinging on.

NOTE: This is a category 2 clematis (pruning) that blooms on both old and new wood.

Spring pruning my clematis

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Time to give it needed some TLC.  (If you want to read how to completely refurbish an overgrown clematis CLICK HERE. 

Spring pruning my Clematis. It isn't hard at all and once you see how I prune my clematis you'll be grabbing your pruners and cleaning up yours for beautiful blooms.

Get your pruners and get to work.  Start from the top and work downward.  Much of it is quite brittle so take care and be gentle.  Here is a nice fat bud erupting from the vine.

(this particular method also works for pruning group 1 Clematis which typically bloom earlier than group 2. Group 1 bloom on old wood only)

Spring pruning my Clematis. It isn't hard at all and once you see how I prune my clematis you'll be grabbing your pruners and cleaning up yours for beautiful blooms.

It has more vine above it but it is not actively growing and the side tendrils too are dried up.

Spring pruning my Clematis. It isn't hard at all and once you see how I prune my clematis you'll be grabbing your pruners and cleaning up yours for beautiful blooms.

I take my pruners and cut all that dried up stuff back.  Sometimes I have to gently separate vines that are wrapping around each other.

Spring pruning my Clematis. It isn't hard at all and once you see how I prune my clematis you'll be grabbing your pruners and cleaning up yours for beautiful blooms.

I remove the dead leaves as well.  It is looking tidier already but there is nothing to help keep it tied up to the trellis.  This is where some strips of old pantyhose can come in handy like I use when tying up my climbing roses, I show them in this post. CLICK HERE

This is a good time to decide how you want to train your clematis and tie it up as you wish it to grow.

I just wrapped mine about the trellis. I may come back in and decide to do a harder prune on one of the vines coming from the ground.

When I looked closely I have 5 main vines coming up from the roots.   The areas I know will bloom are much higher up the trellis.  I can choose one vine and decide to cut it back to about 12 inches from the ground to encourage blooms lower on the trellis.  Since I have other flowers growing around my clematis base that could be a waste since those blooms may not be that visible.

This light prune cleans up the clematis for bloom time and gives you a chance to really look closely and make sure all is healthy and good to go.  Before you know it your clematis will be filled with glorious blooms and be tidy too.

Here is the video and about halfway through I share another way (easier) to prune a group 2 clematis and at the end, it compares the two clematis, one pruned like I did in this post and the other is the alternate method that is even easier. You will be amazed at the comparison!

Want to know more about Clematis, just check out some of the posts linked below!

Happy Gardening!

More Garden Goodness
How to Grow Clematis
Refurbish a Clematis with a Hard Prune
Air Layering to Root Roses

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7 Comments

  1. Lucky you with a nice day, it’s snowing in my neck of the woods again 🙁 I planted a Clematis last year and it did really well, I’ll have to go out and see if there’s any growth yet. Thanks for the pruning tips, I’ll do it to mine as soon as it’s needed.

  2. Thanks for the pruning tips! My dark purple Clematis is so huge and brown right now. I’ve had it at least 10 years. A couple of years my husband cut it completely down to the growth coming out of the ground, about a foot, and it’s been so robust since then. We live in Minnesota, so we’re north enough to get some cold Winters!! This Winter has been a cold one. Coldest in quite a few years. It grows good rhubarb too!!

    1. We are still getting heavy snow this late in March, which is not that unusual, just annoying when you have things to get into the ground. Yes, cutting many clematis clear to the ground is the perfect way to get more shoots and a robust plant. It is often encouraged to do that for the first 2 or 3 years to make it produce more shoots from the root and get huge, healthy plants.

  3. Could you share some info on pruning Lady Banks rose? I need to but have been apprehensive about doing it. Thx.
    BRENDA Beary

    Cumming, GA

    1. Lady Banks is a once blooming rambler and blooms on old wood. So pruning back a bit after it blooms is the best time to do it.

  4. My clematis is full stems sticking out. Also no flowers blooming on the upper part of the plant but flowering on lower part of plant Can I trim off the stems that are sticking out?

    1. You can do anything you want to your clematis but since I don’t know which variety it is hard to say if you would lose any blooms this summer. You can tie the ones sticking out into the trellis or if they bug you, go ahead and trim them off. You don’t say if the top part is new growth or old, which depending on the pruning group can go ahead and bloom or it can not bloom and just need to be cut off. On the non-blooming top growth I would say leave it and see if it goes ahead and blooms later in the season. If it doesn’t then give it a good prune in late winter, early Spring.

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