Clematis Pruning Group 3 – Be brave and prune hard
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There are many types of clematis plants and if you have a clematis that falls in group three you need to make sure that you are properly pruning to get the most out of those beautiful flowers. They flower 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.
If you have type 3 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 and there 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 have 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.
|Flowering Times||Late summer on growth from current season|
|Pruning Times||Late winter through early spring|
|Difficulty Level||Moderate/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 when 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 that 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 type falls under the group 3 category.
Types of Group 3 clematis for pruning:
- C. viticella
- C. triternata
- Lady Betty Balfour
- 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 as 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 also provide feed 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 toward the end of the branch, leaving the base bare and exposed which is what 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.
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