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If you don't have in-depth knowledge of gardening, faced with a tangle of clematis to prune, it is easy to get discouraged, scratch your head and wonder where to start.
The confusion is probably caused by the specific pruning needs of many species and varieties of this plant, given that some vines need to be cut down to the ground every year while other types only need a simple shearing.
But how do you know what kind of pruning a clematis, or clematis, needs?
It's simple: the key to successful pruning is trying to figure out which of the three groups your plant belongs to. If you are still not sure what type of clematis you have or which group it belongs to, let the plant grow freely for a year or two and see how it blooms: in that case it will be easy to attribute it to a group and, in any case, you can always ask advice to a good gardener.
Why prune clematis
If you don't prune, the vines will end up overloading with stems that produce few flowers. Likewise, the most vigorous species and varieties, and the varieties that are not cared for, will end up returning most of their energy to the top of the plants, in danger of collapsing under their own weight. The pruning of clematis instead stimulates new growth, increasing the number of flowers, and encouraging the flowers to a level that you can enjoy them to the fullest, then taking the weight off the plant to prevent it from tipping over.
Pruning also helps to keep clematis healthy: the withering or rot of the fungal stem can in fact occasionally affect this plant, causing its collapse and the deterioration of shoots, leaves or sometimes of the entire vine, usually at the beginning of the summer.
Pruning wilted shoots for healthy growth or, if necessary, pruning the entire plant near the ground prevents the spread of disease and stimulates the growth of new stems from healthy tissue.
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A first group of clematis blooms in spring. Try to take care of carrying out the care immediately after flowering in spring so that the new stems that grow will have enough time to produce buds for the following year.
The amount to remove when pruning this group essentially depends on the vigor of the vine and the extent of the support you have provided to the vine. The most vigorous species, such as varieties C. armandii, they can be cut almost to the ground. On the other hand, other clematis such as the C. alpina is C. macropetala require minimal pruning.
Flowering in early summer
A second group of clematis it blooms in late spring or early summer. In this case, remember that the lives of this group require a little careful pruning compared to the vines of the other groups. If these types of clematis are drastically cut shortly after the first flowering, there is a risk of losing a large part of their summer production.
Therefore, try to thin out and untangle the stems slightly before growth begins in late winter or early spring, and then perform a revision on the plant after the first flowers fade, in late spring or early summer, significantly shortening the stems that bear those flowers . If the plant tends to bloom later rather than at the beginning of the season, you can act with greater incisiveness.
A third group of clematis it blooms in late summer or autumn. In this case, we are faced with the easiest group to prune. just before the start of the season's growth, or at the beginning of the season, a more important pruning can be carried out and, depending on the case, even directly at a distance close to the ground. However, there is no need at all to cut a late flowering clematis so drastically if you are still going to let it stretch into a tree where you want its flowers to sneak out at the top. In addition, some plants in this category, such as varieties C. orientalis is C. tangutica, they start flowering earlier and then continue to bloom longer if not cut so drastically.
In short, in case of doubt we remember, also in this case, the preference for a full sharing with your trusted gardener, who will certainly be able to illustrate the best techniques to achieve the most delicious result!