Clematis and Climbers

Pruning clematis montana – pruning group 1 clematis

Last updated on February 19th, 2022

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Regularly pruning your clematis will encourage better flowering and a stronger plant overall. It also helps to prevent the plant from growing out of control. If you fail to prune properly and regularly your clematis will manifest itself into a mass of tangled stems overlapping one another with an empty base and flowers every which way.

When to prune clematis montana

If you have a clematis of the montana species, you need to prune them in accordance with pruning Group 1, which means you prune early in the year after flowering in spring. Because clematis montana is very vigorous you can actually just use a pair of shears to trim them to shape after flowering.

Quick Facts:

Flowering TimesSpring, on the shoots from the previous season
Pruning TimesImmediately after flowering from mid to late spring
Difficulty LevelModerate/Easy – simply prune to shape

The clematis montana is part of what is called Group One because it flowers early on in the year and it does so on the shoots that were created the previous summer. The younger plants will produce long, single stems and only offer flowers at the top therein if they are not properly pruned.

How to prune young clematis montana with very few stems

When it comes time, you should prune back hard following the first spring after you have planted your clematis. The only exception is if your plant has already produced 3-4 healthy stems out of its base by that time.

To begin with, cut back to right above a pair of buds, which should be about 30cm above the soil. Doing this will encourage multiple stems that you can train to provide wider coverage in your garden. Once spring and summer roll around, you can tie in that new growth to give it some support.

Make sure you use the sharpest garden shears you have and always disinfect them in between cuts to avoid the transfer of diseases. You can use cleaning solutions or a mixture of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach. When done, remove any of the cuttings and throw them out. If you leave them underneath the plant it can result in mould or diseases that could spread.

For this particular group, regular pruning is not a requirement, however, if you have to prune it you should do so after flowering, at the middle of or the end of spring. You want to time it such that you don’t trim until after the danger of inclement weather has passed to avoid damage from frost.

Pruning mature plants

If you have an established plant it is important that you prune any branches that have grown far too long and that you prune back any winter damaged or dead shoots far enough to the first pair of healthy buds. A vigorous clematis, especially the clematis montana, can be sheared over after flowering in order to keep the plant looking good and this is why they can also make a good hedge. You can also thin out older, congested plants so that it’s easier to maintain good airflow.

If you are going to do this, cut all of the stems back to just above the base and apply some fertiliser to the soil so that your plant gets the nutrients it needs to regrow. You should avoid hard pruning more than once every three years.

If you have group 2 clematis you can read about pruning there here and if you have group 3 clematis you can learn about pruning them here.

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  1. Rebecca Hawes

    Hello John,

    I have three clematis Montana, very good foliage, growing around cast iron oblixs. I haven’t seen any flowers for two springs at least because I made the mistake of hard pruning in Autumn unaware that my clematis was in group 1!

    However even though I have researched into pruning group 1 clematis, I am still confused!
    Should I lightly shear my clematis back to frames or just leave well alone and see what has happens spring time?

    Kind regards,

    Rebecca Hawes

  2. John Moore

    Hi Rebecca, I have some montana clematis and with mine, I don’t even prune them. If they get out of hand I will perhaps prune harder and accept probably won’t flower the following year. You could however just lightly prune as soon as they finish flowering to keep the shape if you needed. Remember though they flower on the previous year’s foliage so if you prune too late you remove the growth that will produce the flowers the following year Hope this helps.

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