Prune clematis now to encourage a waterfall of large, showy blooms by summer.
Clematis are among the best value climbers you can get – you’ll find a fantastic range in our garden centre here in Poynings and now is just the time of year to plant them. They say you can have a clematis in flower every day of the year, and we’ve got the varieties to prove it from winter-flowering evergreen Clematis cirrhosa to spring alpine clematis, large-flowered summer clematis and the sophisticated, elegant blooms of autumn clematis like the viticella and texensis types.
Left to their own devices, some clematis can grow into big, tangled knots, flowering only at the top well above eye level. Prune back hard now, though, and you’ll encourage lots of new shoots from low down on the plant – meaning the flowers are distributed better, too.
Make sure you know what clematis you’re growing before you start, as they are pruned differently depending when they flower. Winter and spring flowering clematis need little pruning apart from cutting them back to fit their allotted space straight after flowering.
Prune large-flowered summer-flowering clematis lightly in spring, removing about a third of the top growth and cutting back to just above a pair of healthy buds. After the first flush of flowers finishes in summer, prune again, cutting just above the next set of buds below the faded blooms to encourage strong new shoots and if you’re lucky, a second flowering.
Late summer and autumn flowering clematis are pruned right now. It couldn’t be easier: with a sharp pair of secateurs, simply snip away all top growth to 30cm (12”) above the ground. These will send out new, healthy stems this season, covered in flowers from summer onwards. Finish with a feed of slow-release fertiliser, mulch and look forward to the spectacular display to come.