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Clematis

Pruning your Clematis

The Spring Hill Nurseries® Easy Stoplight Guide

Let's cut through all the noise about Clematis pruning--it's actually quite simple. The Clematis expert, Deborah Hardwick has given Spring Hill Nurseries a quick and easy way to remember how to prune each type of Clematis. It's either green, yellow or red (like traffic lights!).

If you want to know what color a specific variety falls under, look at its product webpage:

Where to check pruning details

Green means Go

Prune as often or as fully as you like to promote reblooming.

These are vigorous, they bloom on old and new wood. Because they flower freely on new stems, we suggest pruning the plant down to right above the lowest node showing growth every spring. Large, established plants can also be pruned flat to the soil, which helps the plant initiate new stems. The new growth mid-season will rebloom in most U.S. climates.

Yellow means Slow

Use caution to retain stems from last season for best flowering.

Even though they can flower on new growth, these Clematis usually produce the largest flowers on stems from prior years. In spring, prune to remove ends that are damaged or not showing signs of new growth. A good rule of thumb is to cut the stem right above the highest set of fat buds that are breaking growth. You'll also want to prune them right after the first flowering period of the season.

Red means No

Only trim if needed after flowering.

These only flower well on the prior year's growth. You'll be able to spot them easily because they're usually the earliest blooming Clematis in your garden. For these early bloomers, trim right after the first flowering period of the season, only to remove growth above a broken or damaged stem or to keep the plant tidy.

Quick Tip--the earlier the Clematis blooms, the more caution you should use.