Clematis and Climbers

Clematis Pruning Group 3 – Be brave and prune hard

Last updated on February 19th, 2022

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There are many types of clematis plants and if you have a clematis that falls into group three then you need to make sure that you are properly pruning it to get the most out of these beautiful flowers. They flower in late summer and need to be pruned back hard in late winter or early spring just above ground level to a good set of buds.

Type of clematis

If you have a group three clematis, regular pruning will keep your plant in check. If you don’t prune regularly, and by regularly we mean once a year, it will manifest in the form of a mass of stems tangled here, there and everywhere, and the flowers produced will be well above eye level so you won’t be able to enjoy them and the base of the plants become very bare and unsightly.

If you prune clematis in group 3, be aware that they flower at the end of summer and they do so on growth from that season so you need to prune it at the end of winter or the beginning of spring.

If you have a hybrid clematis that flowers early spring and again in late summer then take a look at our guide for pruning group 2 clematis here.

Quick Facts:

Flowering TimesLate summer on growth from the current season
Pruning TimesLate winter through early spring
Difficulty LevelModerate/Easy – Prune hard to a good set of buds above ground level

When to prune

There are many species of clematis, as well as hybrids, but for pruning purposes, they are divided into one of three groups based upon the time of year they flower and the age of the wood on which they flower. Those that fall under group three or type three produce flowers at the end of summer and they do so on growth from the current season.

This means that you can cut back your clematis on a regular basis and you can do it pretty heavily. But before you do make sure that your clematis falls under the group three category.

Types of Group 3 clematis for pruning:

  • C. viticella
  • C. triternata
  • Abundance
  • Lady Betty Balfour
  • Alionushka
  • Etiole Violette
  • Polish Spirit
  • Sir Trevor Lawrence
  • Royal Velours
  • Ernest Markham
  • Princess Diana
  • Duchess of Albany

When you set about pruning a young plant, you want to cut right above a pair of leaf buds, approximately 30cm from the ground. This will encourage new stems and you can train them in such a way to provide better coverage. The following season, once the new growth returns strong, you can tie it into the existing growth to generate even spacing as well.

When you set about pruning a mature plant, you should do it in February or March and cut back the older stems to about 15-30cm in height. If you have varieties that have smaller flowers, like tangutica or orientalis, you can just thin them and trim them to the main branch network so you can enjoy the seedheads and they will also provide food for the birds.

So what happens if you fail to prune? The clematis will continue flowering wherever the growth ended the previous season, which means rather than a contained cluster of flowers at eye level you will have flowers that progressively move towards the end of the branch, leaving the base bare and exposed which is something you want to try and avoid.

That said, if you are growing the clematis over a pergola or up to a very high wall or side of a house and space is not an issue, this might be something you strive for purposefully. If you have a herbaceous clematis, prune it back to ground level at the end of spring or the start of autumn. Herbaceous clematis grows from ground level and so can be pruned right back to ground level.

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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