Pruning Clematis vines?

gottagrowNovember 2, 2008

I have a Clematis vine that is somewhat out of control. I have it planted against some plastic latice work and it has gotten so top heavy it is pulling the top over. We want to put some extensions on the 4x4's to anchor the top, but I may have to cut it back. The outside leaves are still green but everything underneath is very brittle and dead looking. I'm not sure what kind they are any more and I'm scared to death that I'll kill it if I prune it real heavy. Is this the right time of year and what would happen if I just took the hedge trimmers and shaved the whole front of it off? We live in zone 4/5. If anyone out there has dealt with this kind of heavy pruning, please advise! Thanks!

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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

A lot depends on the type of Clematis. Some bloom on old growth, some bloom on new growth. So pruning may affect the bloom next year. That being said, if the plant is pulling down the lattice work, prune back partially. You might affect the bloom next spring, but you will save your lattice. Then again, you might do the plant a favour by clearing out some old stock that no longer blooms.

I know this might not be the type of answer you wanted, but these are some things to consider.

I have three different clematis growing in the same place. Personally, I do trim mine to about 6 feet tall.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 5:10PM
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I had never pruned my clematis until last year, after returning from vacation, I noticed that a "helpful neighbor" had come over to check on the plants and whacked my beloved clematis down to about 12".

Well, at first I was horrified -- but then, I was amazed at the new growth and the blooms were everywhere! That was in April of 2008 that the pruning occurred. Now, November, I think I am going to go and grab some clippings and try my hand at rooting some of them. In the process, this GIANT clematis is getting a good haircut again (down to about 18"), as the new growth from this season has overwhelmed the trellis which now needs rebuilt and extended another 5-6'.

Let me know how yours works out.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 11:59AM
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Thanks for the responses, tho I haven't done anything to them yet! I now know that the one that is really out of control is a Daniel Deronda. I haven't been able to check any further to find out if it blooms on old or new wood, but from the looks of it, I'd say on new. The shoots coming out of the ground appear so brittle it still scares me but I guess I'm going to have to bite the bullet and chop if I want to keep the lattice work in tact. I'll stay in touch...happy gardening!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 5:42AM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

This is what Dave's Garden says about Daniel Deronda. The pruning groups is a little confusing for this one.

Family: Ranunculaceae (ra-nun-kew-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Clematis (KLEM-uh-tiss) (Info)
Cultivar: Daniel Deronda
Group: Early Large-flowered

Height: 6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

Spacing: 36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

Hardiness: USDA Zone 4a - 8B

Bloom Color: Blue-Violet

Flower Fragrance: No fragrance

Bloom Shape: Semi-Double Flat

Bloom Diameter: Large - 5 to 8 inches (12 to 20 cm)

Bloom Time: Mid Summer

Sun Exposure: Full Sun Sun to Partial Shade

Other details: Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater Suitable for growing in containers

Pruning Groups: Group 2 - Repeat bloomers; prune immediately after flowering
Group 3 - Summer/Fall bloomers; prune hard in early spring

Propagation Methods:
From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting: N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed
. .
. .
. .
Bushwood Gardens says that it is in group 2, where it is pruned right after blooming, so that suggests that it blooms on the previous year's growth.

However, if the plant is out of control, you will need to prune it, and sacrifice the bloom for a year. I did the same for one of mine this year as well.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 6:55PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

You can do some pruning back now if needed. I just would not cut as extremely short as others did. I usually only prune Clematis back to about 4ft. Not the 12 inches mentioned. Mine are in some shade during the day, so I leave more vine to produce leaves for food and not have to grow so much more vine in getting started again each year.

Just trim enough plant so lattice is repaired, re-anchored and then trim again after it blooms. I would probably look for some other stuff to put over lattice, stronger lattice, to hold up the weight of such a full climber. Winter wind can really pull on untrimmed vines, so support has to be able to hold it up. Know that white plastic stuff has a short life in the sunshine, UV rays make it brittle, even when it says protected. They shatter after a time, nothing you can do about it. Maybe you could make a metal trellis, or buy one to change over for next season.

I have a couple Autumn Clematis that get trimmed back each spring. So I have HUGE bundle of vines to throw away, probably over a 4ft ball of them, for each plant. The arbor they grow on is invisible by summer end. Sure is pretty when they bloom though!

Trimming Clematis is called the "kindest cut". They just grow and bloom so much more, after regular trims each year. Well that and a handful of hydrated lime every year. So cut away after the flowers come and go.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 4:33PM
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