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Pruning Clematis: An overview of pruning groups 1, 2 and 3 and care tips for the most popular varieties.

A clematis is a real eye-catcher in the home garden. However, in order for it to bloom profusely and delight the eye with its splendor for a long time, proper care is crucial. This includes pruning in the spring . We explain how to prune the clematis and what you should pay attention to.

Pruning clematis: An overview of the groups

Clematis pruning groups 1 and 2 and 3 at a glance

There are many varieties of clematis to choose from in garden centers. When to prune each plant depends on when it forms its flowers. Therefore, woodland vines are divided into three pruning groups.  Early-flowering varieties are usually not pruned. Hybrids that bloom twice a year are thinned out in the fall. Summer-flowering woodland vines need heavy pruning in spring.

Pruning group 1 blooms in spring

Clematis pruning tips for spring pruning group 1

Clematis that belong to pruning group 1 bloom in the spring. Some varieties bloom a second time in late summer. They do not require heavy pruning. If necessary, the plant can be thinned out a bit in early summer, after the flowering period is over. However, be sure to remove only diseased, crossing and old shoots. Pruning group 1 includes the various anemone and alpine clematis, among others.

Prune Clematis Montana: Prune alpine clematis only when necessary. A sure sign that the clematis needs pruning is how much it blooms. If this diminishes after a few years, then a nurturing pruning at the end of the flowering period is a good idea. It is best to do this in May/June rather than mid-summer.

When to prune clematis pruning group 2?

pruning group 2 clematis care useful tips

Pruning group 2 includes woodland vine hybrids. They form flowers on the old shoots from the previous year in the spring, which then wither by the end of June. After the end of the flowering period, they sprout again, and bloom a second time at the end of summer. Lightly prune these clematis varieties in late August – early September.

Clematis flower pruning: To encourage repeat flowering in late summer, remove wilted flowers immediately after the flowering period ends in spring. The pair of leaves that are under the flower should also be cut off.

Pruning Clematis piilu: This variety requires regular pruning. It is best to do it in the fall. Over time, the stems of the plants become bare, thin and fragile. Then pruning is necessary in the spring before resprouting. Early March is the right time for this. The hybrid of the woodland vine should be cut back only to half.

Pruning Clematis Multi Blue: This variety also blooms twice a year and is thinned out just a little in the fall, after the end of the blooming season. This involves shortening the shoots by a quarter.

Clematis pruning group 3

Clematis viticella cut which pruning group


In the third pruning group fall those varieties that bloom late. Their flowering period extends from July to September. These plants are pruned back hard in February-March. This pruning encourages growth and can extend the blooming season in summer.

Prune Clematis viticella: These plants freeze back in the winter. The dead above-ground plant parts protect the roots from frost, snow and rain. After winter ends, preferably in February and March, prune the old shoots close to the ground.

Prune Clematis rouge cardinal: The cultivar ‘Rouge Cardinal’ also belongs to pruning group 3. This flowering plant needs pruning in spring, when its shoots are shortened to 40 cm above the ground.

Pruning Clematis:  Is pruning possible during frost in spring?

Clematis pruning cutting group 3 in spring shorten close to the ground

Different varieties of clematis have very different mechanisms for overwintering. Bare frosts and late frosts stress the woodland vines. Intersections are particularly susceptible to frost, so clematis should only be pruned on sunny, warm days.

Cut clematis withered: Pruning is necessary in the event of a fungal infestation.

Clematis variety Multi Blue cut how and when


Most clematis varieties are very hardy plants. However, woodland vines are susceptible to fungus. If the plant is not treated in time, it can die in the worst case. The first step is to remove all diseased shoots, flowers and leaves. This involves cutting off only the affected parts of the plant.

I forgot to prune my clematis!

Clematis Montana cutting useful tips for the spring

Clematis can thrive for a year or two without pruning. So if you forgot to cut back the clematis in pruning group 2, you can do it next year. The plants that belong to pruning group 3 can tolerate pruning even in spring, and then they can recover quickly.

Lushly flowering clematis is a real eye-catcher in the home garden. Whether as a soloist on flower tendrils or in combination with roses: the clematis can be staged in many ways. However, for the climbing plant to thrive for a long time, pruning is necessary. The time for pruning depends on which pruning group the respective variety belongs to.