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Prune and Care for Clematis in the Spring

By Edited Mar 13, 2014 1 1

Growing flowering vines in your garden

Clematis Montana

When the bluebirds come back and the maple syrup starts to run, with bright sunny days, you'll want to get outside for a while and take care of spring garden chores, the perennials, especially.

There are over 300 varieties of the perennial vine clematis, almost in every shade of the rainbow. They fall into three categories or groups: to prune or not to prune, or to prune a little, most need pruning and all need care, but very little and will prove faithful year after year.

If your clematis is to be pruned, you should do this between February and April. To make sure which group yours is in, use the resource buttons below to find your individual variety to determine which group for proper pruning care. This is how to prune and care for clematis in the spring. You will also learn a little about the 'personality' of the clematis vine.

* Pruning shears
* Leaf bags
* Lime

Group 1:

Clematis vines that grow on old growth from last summer's growth, this means they flower in the summer, and you should only prune them after they have bloomed. You can of course, take off any dead or broken stems.

Group 2:

These varieties need to be pruned in early spring to promote growth in their summer flowering season on the previous season's stems. Cut the stems to about 12" after the first year of planting or just above any new shoots of leaves. Remove any dead and weak stems. The second year and thereafter, trim to 3-5 feet.

Group 3:

These varieties bloom on new season's growth and should be pruned very lightly just above the buds.

If you have a large vining Clematis Montana, which blooms in the early spring and is pale pink or white and it has grown up a tree 50 feet in the air, then you obviously are not going to trim it very much. The writer has one such as this, which has covered the entire umbrella of a Sophora Tree, is never pruned and blooms faithfully perennially. Clematis Montana image above.

Soil and planting:

Clematis like rich humus soil, which is kept watered, but not soaked. They also like to have their faces in the sun and their feet in the shade. This means clematis like their roots cool and out of the hot sun. Use a broken clay pot to make a little umbrella for their roots. Mulching might cause the clematis to "dampen" and look as if sad with droopy stems. This is called "wilt" and is caused by a fungus. You'll want to remove the wilting stem and sterilize your shears with bleach. Then apply a little dry fungicide as directed to the soil. Give clematis vines something to climb on: lattice, rose bush, a wall or a tree, as previously stated.

Clematis color choice:

When planting a clematis to grow up a rose bush, choose another color which complements the planting. If the rose is red, then choose a pink, white, or blue clematis variety. Clematis colors will never fail to please you.


You can mulch the clematis and add a little slow release fertilizer in the spring. If you've tested your soil, you might need a little lime added.
This writer always adds about three tablespoons of lime in the spring to promote clematis growth.



Apr 24, 2010 8:47pm
Very detailed and helpful information on how to prune and take care of clematis vines in the spring!
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