Courage to prune

lennon2March 7, 2009

Failed-flowers newbie question:

My yard has clematis growing 12-15 feet long over an arbor and along the top of a tall fence, with almost no blooms, since I didn't know which variety they were. I've concluded they must be group 3, so I'm going to prune.

But the trunks near the ground are the thickness of my thumb, and branching. Do I cut way down to 12 inches from the ground on these main trunks, or 10-12 inches up the assorted branches?

There is a tangle of vines from previous years, of course, but letting them do their own thing last year just produced foliage.

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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

A conservative approach since you don't know the type of clematis you have would be to prune half of the older thick stems back to within 12 inches of the ground. Prune the other half back to three feet or so. If the more severe pruned stems don't resprout, then you still have the other stems to produce more growth.

I would then make sure to fertilize the plants in early spring with a good fertilizer that is balanced or has a slightly higher second number (phosphorus content) since it stimulates root development and flower production.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 2:33PM
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Thanks for the quick reply, Nick. Any harm in cutting them all at 3 feet? There are only 3 main trunks, with myriad branching starting around the 5-foot level.

Should I cut them now? Put anything on the cuts?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 5:24PM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Nope nothing is needed on the cut stems of clematis. If you want to try 3 feet or so, then go for it. All of my clematis were cut back in December and early January. Now should probably be fine to cut them back.

Let us see pictures when it finally blooms. Perhaps we can help with the id of it.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 6:31PM
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