Several clematis with "bare bottoms"

flower-frenzy(8a)May 23, 2014

Sorry for the goofy title, but it seemed to fit the issue I'm facing.

We moved into a house that has several fairly mature clematis growing. They are blooming beautifully, but the bottom 2 feet of all of them are bare and the brown stems are showing, detracting from the flowers. I'm assuming that this is because they haven't been pruned properly.

Luckily, a record of names were kept so I know which ones they are. There are 3 Jackmanii, 1 Asao, 1 Pink Champagne, 1 Madame Julia Correvon and 1 Multi-Blue.

I'm wondering if any of you have suggestions as to what I can do to encourage new growth for next season along the bottoms of these plants. Any advice would be appreciated.

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Some clematis tend to lose their bottom leaves based on genetics, and often people will plant tall perennials in front of them to camouflage the bare stems.

Jackmanii and Madame Julia Correvon are both type 3 pruning, and so should be pruned to just a few sets of buds per stem each winter. If they aren't pruned they will tend to set all their blooms at the top, so they look better hard pruned.

I'll let others advise you about the others since I don't grow them.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 7:13PM
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Thank you! Those are the two that look the worst out of all of them. When you say winter, which month does that mean? I'm in the PNW, so it doesn't get super cold here except sometimes around January/February.

This post was edited by flower-frenzy on Fri, May 23, 14 at 19:40

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 7:33PM
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Don't prune it this year. You will miss the flowers from this season. Hard prune it just before next spring. So for PNW I would say beginning of March 2015 right after winter when new growth just start showing up. I have all of these types. I have done the hard pruning for type 3 and they all look awesome.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 8:32PM
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Thank you for the input. It's been very helpful. Pruning is definitely the subject that confuses me the most when it comes to clematis!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 3:46AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)


This is what I would do: When they are done blooming I would cut ALL of them down to the ground.

I would then sprinkle alfalfa pellets from the feed store (big bag, cheap) around them and some Rose Tone too and keep them well watered during hot spells and well watered once the rain stops.

This will force new green stems up from the crowns.

However, if this freaks you out. Cut half the stems to the ground and the other half to the lowest pair of nodes/buds, just in case the previous owner didn't bury the crowns properly when planting.....

There is plenty of time in the PNW to cut them hard after blooming before frost.

I'm cutting my own back late this year as I have tendonitis and just didn't get them done on time....

I have over 50. I hard prune almost all of them. Some every year and some every other year. Clematis don't read books, they don't know what pruning group they are supposed to be in. Our climate is very good for them with rebloom too. My only complaint is mildew on type IIIs.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 1:28PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

FYI on a normal schedule I hard prune them in FEB same as roses.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 1:29PM
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