Can you pinch back a clematis?

crystal_s(3a)June 27, 2011

I have a Nelly Moser and a Multi Blue. I would prefer them to be shorter and wider rather than taller. Can I just pinch them back to get them to bush out? They each have only one stem that's about 3 ft tall at this time. I only bought them last fall and have never owned clematis previously so I'm a total newbie.


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bob414(USDA 9, Sunset 15)

Yes, pinch them back.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 8:48AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

You can and you should. :)

Next spring, when it is time to prune your roses, cut them down to about a foot tall and then pinch the new growth as it comes up. This should make them put up multiple vines from the crown. The more vines, the more flowers.

I'm not sure in your zone if you have time to do it now or not.

All clematis benefit from hard pruning the first few years to get them to put up more vines.

You might give them some alfalfa meal or pellets too. I use pellets bought as horse feed (no salt, no additives) very cheap at feed store. You can buy meal boxed as fertilizer but it is much more expensive. I have been tossing alfalfa pellets around the yard since last summer and I think the results are great.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 11:11AM
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Thanks for the replies.

Mine don't have buds on them yet so does that mean it's not too late to pinch them this year? I find clematis the most confusing plants ever. Prune one this way another that way. Do this one now that one later. I can't get over how complicated this type of plant is.

Buyorsell, your comment on alfalfa pellets is interesting. What does alfalfa do and is it good for all plants or just clematis?


    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 1:28AM
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Crystal, there is a good article here on the pruning groups.

Not to confuse you more, but I like this article better for explaining group 2s

There is also a list of clematis with zones on the site that might be helpful, and a lot of other great information to help you understand your clematis a little better.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 3:44AM
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Thanks Janet. Those are great sites! I think I'm kind of starting to at least see the bigger picture. :)


    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 9:47AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Clematis don't read so they don't know what pruning groups they are in. All Clematis benefit from pruning especially hard pruning the first few years in the garden. You don't need to stress over pruning just know that pruning is better than not pruning.

Pruning "wrong" will only delay flowers it won't hurt the plant itself.

Alfalfa contains a growth hormone (naturally) that benefits plants. Some brew tea, others buy meal.

I buy huge bags for dirt cheap at the local feed/farm store. If you don't have a horse, you may not realize that there are feed/farm stores in everywhere. They may not be known to you but they are out there. Alfalfa is far cheaper from a feed/farm store than a nursery or pet store.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 1:25PM
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pmermakov(Zone 6 (OH))

Buyorsell888 ~ Thank you for the information on pinching clematis and fertilizing them with alfalfa pellets.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 7:38PM
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I second Buyorsell's suggestion on alfalfa. My daylilies love it, and the roses are fond of it too. I am able to buy alfalfa meal in 15 pound bags at the farmers coop about 20 miles from here. I prefer it to the pellets since it dissolves easier. I agree it is too expensive if you buy it from sources as a fertilizer. I threw out about 25 pounds last week on the daylilies. I am putting it on the clematis that haven't bloomed yet too.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 9:41PM
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